To CSA or to not CSA?

CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. Most people are familiar with the term, because organic farming has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. I know my husband and I have been discussing it for a long time. But we’ve never pulled the trigger.

Local roots farm

So, to CSA or to not CSA? That is the question.

Every time I think about the idea, I get all excited. I want to support the wonderful people in my community who have forged into the unknown and built a farm. I mean, goodness. That’s a risky business, and it’s insanely hard work. Farming, in this day and age, isn’t just about growing things. Farmers have to be skilled self-promoters, speakers, networkers, and educators. Organic farmers are change agents. Pushing people to really look at how they spend their money and what industries they support.

People don’t like change. People fight change. People don’t like to see the ugly side of things. We like the idea of good guys and bad guys, but we never want to think we’re the “bad guys”.

Hrm. I digress. I don’t want to dive into the moral and ethical judgments around the issue.

There are two main reasons I haven’t signed up for a CSA, yet.

#1 Money.

It’s classic human behavior. I find it easier to pay small amounts, more frequently. Um…because it’s easier for me to pretend they don’t add up to the big $$$.

And let’s be honest, industrial farming was created for a reason. Bigger crop yields mean lower prices, and the ability to feed more people at once. It’s all about American efficiency and productivity. Of course, that comes with a hidden price. Chemicals. Hormones. Big farms pushing out small farms. Yada yada yada. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the arguments.

When I look at these CSA prices, my eyes pop out of  my head. I get a small lump in my throat. And I can’t stop myself from mumbling, “Good governor!”

But if I really looked at the numbers holistically  I would probably realize that it’s a wash in the long run.

I guess for me, it seems impossible to write such a large check all at once. When I think in terms of percent of monthly budget on food it’s based on that month’s paychecks. In all honesty, joining a CSA will require some planning and saving on my part. Just to make that first, large down payment.

But you pay for what you get. Right?

# 2 I-can-do-that syndrome

I have lofty dreams. Many interests. And delusions of grandeur.

Every spring, I weed the garden, plant my seeds, and water those fresh veggie starts.

Summer brings more sun, and things start to grow. And then I get home late from work, and the weeds start growing faster than I can pull them out. And then we go camping over the weekend, and I forget to water the garden. And then the bunnies, snails, slugs, and other earth creatures invade and feast on my “garden”.

What I’m saying is…I fancy myself a farmer. But I’m really, really NOT.

And every year my brain gets caught up in the same game. I blame it on winter. It’s this time of year, where winter is winding down and spring is ever so close. When I’m craving color and the beauty of summer’s bounty wipes my memory and makes me think this year will be different. This year I’ll get it right and I’ll have this giant horn of bounty. And if I have my own organic veggies just waiting to be harvested in my backyard, then what would I do with a CSA basket?

And those are the two main reasons why I haven’t committed to a CSA, yet.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you joined a CSA? Why or why not?

So, yeah. To CSA or to not CSA? It’s still the question for me.

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9 thoughts on “To CSA or to not CSA?

  1. CSA is great. I don’t do a CSA (I am ACTUALLY working to be a farmer and have about a dozen things I am growing this year) but I can’t begin to say how important it is. For us, if the money was a wash then I’d just do it ASAP. Unfortunately many of the farmers grow vegetables I don’t have a lot of experience with because it’s seasonal. That’s my biggest fear; getting something I don’t want to or don’t know how to eat!

    1. Yeah, I have that concern, too. Especially in terms of what my kids may or may not eat. But I’m starting to lean towards giving it a go. We can always cancel after that first season if it doesn’t work out. I’ll never know until I try. Right?

  2. I’ve looked at CSA’s as well, but can’t convince myself that I’ll actually be able to keep up with eating what is given to me.

    1. hahahaha. So true. I’m also worried about finding good recipes. It will force me to be creative and make more kitchen concoctions. 😉

  3. For me it comes down to cost. When I look at organic produce I see higher prices, often much higher, for produce that often doesn’t look very appealing compared the the non-organic right next to it. Plus, why pay more for something I’m not convinced is any better or safer for me?

    1. Well, there’s that argument, too. Although, I’m not so much interested in buying organic in a grocery store. I don’t trust that the definition of organic really means anything. Especially in large chain stores. I’m flashing back to the Lite/Light fiasco in the late 80s. There are just too many lobbyists and politicians involved in how we “define” things.
      I’m more interested in buying local. Putting my hard-earned money in the hands of people I know and can trust. Impacting their decisions on what they grow to accomodate what I like to eat. Supporting a more diverse economy in my town. When I buy veggies at a grocery store, I’m not 100% sure where that money goes, and what kinds of conditions it supports (i.e. how the earth is treated, and how the workers are treated).

  4. It took me several years, too, then I finally found a CSA close to home and at the right price and that did the trick. Sometimes the veggies may look a little less pretty, but I always choose organic when possible to minimize pesticide/herbicide exposure, especially with my young daughter. Supermarkets can be really expensive–it depends on where you are– but growing your own or buying from a trusted farmer can just plain taste better, too. PS, with the CSA, I’ve learned how to cook things I couldn’t even identify a few years ago! PPS, you could look into splitting a share with another family, too. Some CSAs offer that option. Good luck!!!

    1. That’s awesome, Lori. I admit that recipes is my #3 reason for not taking the plunge. I’m worried my kids will start to rebel and push back. But I’ll never know how they’ll react until I give them the chance. So the needle is moving ever closer to the “let’s do this” side of the scale.

  5. I’ve received a CSA box twice—while living in Belfast and currently in Seattle. Both times I signed up during the winter months when variety tends to be lower, but I’m still a fan. For me, it’s fun when there’s some new vegetable that I’ve never seen before, and with the internet, I’m never at a loss for recipes. I’ve also learned things like ‘celery root is awesome’ and ‘I don’t like turnips.’ Both of my CSA’s allow substitutions or to not receive the box on weeks when I’m on vacation or just have too much from the last go around. I recommend trying it out; and if you like it, great…if not, then cancel.

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