Community Supported Agriculture or CSA for short, is a way for city dwellers to support small scale, local farmers and reap a share of their harvest. Investors or “partners,” buy a share of the produce before the season begins. These partners then receive a share (a basket, box, or bag) of produce each week throughout the growing season. When people invest in a CSA, they assume the risks inherent with farming. Hail storms, grasshoppers and drought all can spell disaster for the crops. But when you receive your weekly basket the rewards definitely out weigh the risks.
CSA’s first were developed in Japan, Germany and Switzerland in the 1960′s, in response to concerns about food safety and urbanization of agricultural land. The concept of Community Supported Agriculture spread to North America in the 1980′s, and now there are over 1500 CSA farms in Canada and the United States.
If you are new to CSA’s, you might find it odd to be asked to pay for your produce months in advance. But receiving the capital upfront allows the farmer to accurately plan their cash flow and expenses, and that translates to the farmer focusing their time and energy on growing high quality vegetables.
You will receive no fresher ingredients, than the ones that come in your weekly CSA bag. Local produce, is just that local, which means unless you picked it out of your own garden it is some of the freshest vegetables you can prepare. Cooking fresh foods plays a substantial role in getting back to healthful living.
You will also be treating your taste buds with the fresh produce that you are receiving in your CSA bag. Fresh, homegrown produce has the best flavor and vitamin benefits that you can get. Always has and always will.
Breaking bread and cooking together, with family and friends alike, allows you to reconnect with what’s important in life. What better connection can you make than with the farmer that grows your food? I saw a quote from a CSA farmer in a newspaper one time that said, “Most people have a mechanic and a family doctor they trust, and we feel like they should also have a farmer they trust to grow the food they are eating and feeding their families.”
When you invest in a CSA you will receive produce that you may or may not be familiar with. This is a great way to get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking. Most farmers have newsletters, online resources or fliers to help give you ideas and recipes for produce that you may not be familiar with. Many families find that children who are exposed to these new items are more willing to try them because it came from “their” farm. Check out Nutrition Know How during the summer months for more creative ways to use the produce from CSA bags. Last summer Carrie shared this Cucumber Salsa Recipe in her blog, I wanted to run it again to wet your appetite for what wonderful ideas and recipes that will be coming when the CSA starts up again this summer. ENJOY!!
2 medium cucumbers, peeled andchopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ c. chopped green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small onion
1 t. garlic, minced
2 T. lime juice
2 t. minced fresh cilantro
½ t. salt
1 package tortilla chips
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumbers, tomatoes, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion,garlic, lime juice, cilantro, dill, and salt.
2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.
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