Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CSA Time

Community sponsored agriculture groups are the coolest. Not only do you get a bunch of random fresh vegetables for a decent price every week, but being part of one is excellent for the earth. What’s good for the earth is good for you and me.

What exactly is a CSA you may ask? A Community Sponsored Agriculture group is exactly what its name says. Farmers sell a share of their vegetables (sometimes fruit too) to people interested in vegetables and all the goodness they have to offer. The vegetables usually come in a large box/crate. The vegetables are always seasonal and therefore super fresh (and full of all those good vitamins and minerals).

What’s so much better about a CSA than the conventional grocery store you ask? Because CSA’s work on Mother Nature’s time, like I previously mentioned, everything is fresh. Of course you can go to the local super market and get a tomato that appears fresh, but that tomato has a hidden secret.

The grocery store tomato may appear perfectly shaped, perfectly colored, and have the perfect amount of shine to it, but these are typically false advertisements. How do those perfectly red tomatoes make it to our local grocer in the middle of winter? They are either shipped from somewhere ridiculously far away like Israel, or they are picked green and gassed with ethylene to make them appear ripe. The tomatoes are then refrigerated to make it from across the country. According to tomato experts, (even non tomato experts like myself) tomatoes should never be refrigerated. The red tomato never really was red.

I won’t get into pesticides and all the horrible things surrounding their use. I will mention that because the CSA grows such a variety of vegetables, they don’t have to use pesticides. If they do, they are the all-natural-not-going-to-hurt-you pesticides. Many grocery stores are selling organic, pesticide free, veggies now which are good, but not great, as they have to travel from far off places (which I will discuss in a moment). The “red” tomato at the grocery store, unless labeled organic, definitely has been treated with pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs…what makes us think we are so much better than a bug….

Since all this CSA veggie goodness is grown locally, the food doesn’t have to travel far to your lovely dinner plate. That means there is less oil consumption, less pollution, etc. For those of you who would rather vomit than care about the earth, that means less diesel trucks on the freeway so you can get to where you are going faster.

A selfish reason for joining a CSA is that the vegetables simply taste better! And why wouldn’t they? A scientifically ripened tomato will never taste as good as an all natural one.

CSAs are also affordable. Danny and I get a half share of vegetables every week. We pay for 12 weeks at a time which is $200. That may sound like a lot of cash, but if you do the math that’s only $16.67 per week for a huge box of veggies that will last all week and feeds a family of 2-4. I guarantee if you eat vegetables on a semi regular basis, this is cheaper than the super market.

Perhaps the coolest part about a CSA is that every week is a surprise. Since the farmer doesn’t force anything to be red when it’s not supposed to be, you eat what is in season. If the tomato needs another week to ripen, so be it. Granted I don’t like every single thing that I get in the share, but I always give it a try or find someone who does like it. Eating something that doesn’t send me begging for seconds every time isn’t going to kill me, in fact it probably has a nutrient in it that will help to not kill me. (Shout out to you beets!) Generally though, all the weird squashes and funky looking leaves taste pretty darn good.

Did I mention because we have a share on the farm, we can visit it when we want to? That’s right Danny and I can go hang out with Farmer Bob Whitaker. (I know what an awesome farmer name!) We can actually meet the man growing our food…and not the machine shaking it off the bush.

There is so much more to say about the benefits of a CSA, but I will let your wondering minds discover the benefits yourself. And if the CSA thing is too much for you, or you are not a huge veggie fan and just want your red tomato, then plant a tomato plant. That’s the ultimate gift to yourself and our world.

Here is a link to the CSA I am a part of in French Camp, CA

Or you can check out for a CSA closer to you.


  1. That's cool. I didn't think there would be one around here, but there is one about 15 miles away! But I am growing a bunch of veggies myself this year, so hopefully that will work out! All the seeds are sprouting in my windowsill and I am going to plant them this weekend! =)

  2. Very nice post Jessica and a very good idea as we have talked about in the past. But help me understand, how come my tomatoes from the garden are red if they aren't red?

  3. I think I am going to look into doing that!