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Is a CSA right for you?

The environmental benefits of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) are numerous.   From supporting small farms to lowering your carbon footprint to getting delicious locally grown food, CSAs are a great way to eat healthy and be green.

However, CSAs aren't right for every family.  Here are some good things to ask yourself before joining a CSA.

  • Can you eat the amount of fruits and vegetables that will come in your weekly share?  If not, do you like to can or is there typically room in your freezer to save anything that you can't eat?

  • Are you or picky?  Are there some fruits and veggies that you plain old won't eat?  Find out what kind of produce is offered at local CSAs before committing.

  • Are your kids picky?  If your kids are anything like my toddler, it's next to impossible to get them to eat a substantial amount of most vegetables.  If the CSA says it will feed a family of four, you may end up with extra if you have picky kiddos.

  • Do you garden?  If you have a pretty substantial garden, the amount of produce you'd get from a CSA may leave you with more than you can eat.  

  • Do you travel a lot in the summer?  Are you planning any big trips?  You'd need to be able to pick your share up on a weekly basis.    However, some CSAs have "vacation holds" so you don't need to fret about travel plans.

  • Are you willing to pay the cost upfront?  CSAs can be expensive, though some have sliding scales.  Some CSAs also offer smaller shares.  

  • Do you cook a lot?  If you tend to dine out a lot, a CSA might not be right for you.  Additionally, if you don't like to cook, you could end up wasting food for vegetables that require cooking.  (Especially if they're some more "exotic" types of vegetables.

Other notes about CSAs:

  • If you garden a lot and think you may not make the best use of a produce CSA, look for other CSA options.  If you eat meat, you can also find meat CSAs.  Usually the meat comes frozen and ready to stick in your freezer.  It's a great way to support local farms and get organic meats.  Some CSAs also have eggs, cheeses, and other tasty goods.
  • Some CSAs also let you visit the farm whenever you like.  This is a great option if you have kids.  Additionally, included with the cost of the CSA, some farms will let you pick your own fruits.
  • Some CSAs require members to volunteer at the farm or assist with distrubutions.
  • You can sometimes find farms that offer CSAs during the winter months.  So, if you think that summer might be a tricky time for you to join a CSA, consider doing one during the off-season.    
  • Read Liz's post from last summer about her wonderful experience with a CSA.  

If you determine that a CSA isn't the best option, you can still support local farmers by scoping out local farm stands, visiting farms for picking your own fruit, and shopping at your local farmers markets!  LocalHarvest can help you with your local eating needs!