What is a CSA, you ask? It’s Community Shared Agriculture, also known as a co-op. CSA is a way for us regular folks to buy into a local farm and have a set “share” of their crops each week. CSA’s are popping up absolutely everywhere. They are often the cheapest and best way to ensure you are getting locally grown, seasonal, fresh and likely organic produce every week. The project I’ve been working with, GetLocalFoods.com, is aiming to build a nation wide network that will help assist people in finding things just like CSA’s, or local farmer’s markets. For now, the simplest thing to do would be to just Google CSA and the name of your town. Chances are, you’ll find at least one!
We have been members of the Ambrose Farms CSA for almost a year, and I have LOVED every single Tuesday knowing that I’m going to get a great mystery bag of awesome produce. Here are 2 examples of how the CSA produce day can look at our house:
We are fortunate enough in Charleston to have several awesome local farms that offer CSA shares. To name a few:
Each farm and CSA membership will have different programs, pick up times, locations, prices and offerings. My suggestion to you is to read about each farm’s CSA program and pick which one works best for you and your family! CSA memberships come in different sizes, and each program should give you a rough estimate of how many people each share will feed each week, and the cost per membership for several weeks.
Average prices per week typically range from $15 to $30, depending on your size, location, drop off logistics, etc. There may be pricier options for you, which may be appealing based on convenience. For instance, some farms may allow you to pay more for a more custom order. The cheapest way to go is to get what they give you. It may not be a bag of your favorite veggies, but it’s an excellent way to expand your palate and grab more nutrients!
So WHY should you eat locally grown? I promise you’ll love it. If it’s too much, you can split it with a friend. If it’s not enough, supplement from the farmer’s market or go up a size on your share! Here is a list compiled by Dr. Phillip Davis at GetLocalFoods.Com :
US FOOD AND NUTRITION FACTS
- Less than 10% of Americans get optimal nutrients from their food.
- More than 60% of U.S. children and adolescents eat in excess of the recommended daily amounts of saturated fats.
- Only 24% of U.S. adults and 20% of U.S. high school students eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- In the past 30 years, obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled in adults and more than tripled in children and adolescents. 2 out of 3 adults are either overweight or obese and almost 1 of 3 children are overweight or obese. *Above taken from the Centers for Disease Control public website.
- The modern supermarket has on average more than 40,000 products and only a small fraction of these are fruits and vegetables.
- On average, American farmers receive less than 20 cents per dollar spent on the food they grow – the majority of profits go to food middlemen and a small number of large corporations.
- It can take up to 2 weeks for produce imported outside of the U.S. to reach your grocery store.
- Following harvest, vitamins, minerals & antioxidants in produce have been shown to decrease substantially during storage, shipping and grocery store display periods.
- Organic, naturally grown produce has been shown to contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals and less nitrates (component of chemical fertilizers) compared to industrialized, conventional agriculture products. Reference: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 2001, 7(2): 161-173.
This guest post comes from Claire O’Bryan, from her blog Heavy On the Veggie. She is a Nurse Practitioner with a BS in Exercise Science. She has recently entered the world of blogging to share her passion for all things local, organic, healthy, and delicious. She’s a vegan wanna be who deep down loves a good piece of cheese. She’s currently practicing at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC.