What? You don't know what a CSA is?!? Let me introduce you to a great way to get fresh local veggies and support your local community at the same time! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Early in the spring (right NOW people!!!), households sign up for a "share" of vegetables from a local farm or a group of farms. With early sign ups, farmers get seed money (literally) to plan their crops, it gives farmers a better idea of demand, and gives a good idea of where delivery will be available. When produce begins, farmers pack up their produce into boxes and deliver to drop off locations for customers to pick up on a weekly or bi weekly basis.
Why is this important? I'm so glad you asked...
1. Fresher produce - Instead of traveling the estimated average of 1500 miles to get to your table (and that's a real fact, not one I made up) you get produce grown just down the road. This means it's fresher because it's ripened naturally instead of during transit, giving you more vitamins and a healthier product. Also, most local farmers are using healthier methods of growing as opposed to the large farms.
2. More produce - Our family signed up for a small share last year and really enjoyed it. (Well, kids might have been on the fence about all those veggies coming home.) What surprised me was how much better we ate during the season. Every dinner there was a fruit and vegetable grown from local farmers. Although I buy healthy food all year long, the extra produce forced me to make sure it got on the table and get eaten within a week.
3. Creative cooking - This might only excite a few people because you are struggling just to get food on the table, not become the next Top Chef. But I'm sure you have a few minutes during the day to look up a vegetable you've never heard of before or discover a new way to cooking recurring ones. (Let me ask facebook how much extra time you have in your day...) You can really feel empowered and less frightened in the kitchen when you discover something new or make a new item you actually enjoy.
4. Supporting local farmer - Last year, I stood in my garden and cried. It was overrun with weeds, the blight got the tomatoes, and somehow the strawberries were on a break. Farmers do what they do because they love it, they are better at it than you, or it's just in their blood. Support them! I never want to be a full time farmer because I'd cry every day. You have an opportunity to support a local industry and get the benefit of better food.
Find a local CSA!! Penn's Corner Farm Alliance drops off at Penn Pantry on Wednesdays this year. Sign up today. I'm doing it right now!
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