5 Reasons You Should Join a CSA

Hello, lovelies!

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite topics – VEGETABLES.

If you follow me on social media, you may know by now that my husband and I joined a CSA a few months ago. If you aren’t familiar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A lot of small farms have CSA programs, and basically if you join you are paying to get a regular share of produce. It’s kind of like getting a subscription box to your local farm!

There are various ways that each farm may structure their CSA programs – each program may differ on how often you get your box of produce, different sizes of boxes, and different methods of getting your box to you. For example, some may drop your box straight on your doorstep, while others may require you to pick it up from a specific place at a specific time.

Our CSA is through Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin. They are local and organic, which we love! This particular program has a few different CSA options, but we signed up for a weekly “small” box that we pick up from the farmers market, which is just across the street from us! The small box is perfect for our house since it’s just me and my husband.

Every Saturday morning, my husband and I grab a reusable grocery bag and walk across the street to the farmers market. It’s always a fun way to start off the weekend! We grab our box of veggies, and sometimes if we need any specific produce that week that isn’t in our box, we will wander the market and find a booth that sells whatever we are looking for. Typically we get plenty in our box, but being a food blogger means that I sometimes have plans that require specific things 😉

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with our decision to join the CSA. So today I want to share with you why you should consider looking into local CSA programs in your area!

5 Reasons You Should Join a CSA

1. You don’t have to go grocery shopping as often

I used to go to the grocery store weekly. However, now that we get our fresh produce from the CSA, I really only have to go to the grocery store when I need to stock up on pantry staples – which is really only once every 3 weeks or so! Whenever I do go to the store I stock up on pantry staples to last me a while (such as whole grains, beans, flours, and spices), and that’s really my only main focus at the store!

There are a few veggies or fruits that I still rely on the store for, but not many. Things that we don’t get from our local farm, like bananas, I still get at the store. However, for the most part, I can rely on our weekly box and a couple other occasional purchases at the farmers market for all of my produce needs!

2. You get to eat organic foods (in most cases)

Most farms that offer CSAs are often organic, though this isn’t always the case so be sure to ask if this is important to you! When I used to buy everything at the store I didn’t buy everything organic, but I did try my best! Sometimes it’s hard to find organic options at the store though, so I love knowing that we always get organic in our weekly box.

In the idea of being transparent, I do know that there is some debate out there as to how many health benefits organic options actually bring us – but my personal belief is that it definitely can’t hurt! Some potential benefits of organic foods include more nutrients and significantly less pesticide residue. Plus, organic means that fewer harmful chemicals are used, so it’s also a great choice for the earth!

Even if your local farm isn’t organic, I would argue that this is still a kind contribution to the earth. Your veggies don’t have to be transported nearly as far, so less resources are used to get them to your table. AND your veggies are likely not individually packaged by the farm, so you’re using less plastic and packaging as well. Yay earth!

3. Farm fresh food just tastes better

Look, if you haven’t experienced many farm fresh veggies, you probably think I’m a little crazy. But I kid you not, farm fresh food JUST TASTES BETTER. Over the last few months my husband and I have noticed that the dishes I make with our CSA veggies are more flavorful and delicious than ever before. I theorize that this is partially because they are organic. However, another factor is that you’re actually eating what is in season, so it’s at it’s peak yumminess! In addition, the veggies don’t have to be transported over long distances to get to you – so they are as fresh as possible!

Ever notice that you can buy most veggies at the grocery store year round? There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part the grocery stores are able to get their hands on fruits and veggies any time they want by transporting them from all over – which means that your veggies aren’t as fresh and may not be as tasty!

4. You’re supporting local

By joining a CSA with a local farm you are basically voting with your dollars on something you believe in. You’re basically saying “THIS. THIS IS A GOOD THING FOR OUR COMMUNITY AND WE WANT MORE THINGS LIKE THIS”.

You are supporting your local economy and contributing to your very own community. You are investing in your future by supporting a local farm today so that it can continue to exist tomorrow (cue the inspirational music). CSAs let you support your local farmer while they, in turn, support your family with fresh produce – it’s really a win-win!

5. You will start experimenting with your food (and make fun new discoveries!)

One thing that is a little odd about a CSA when you first start is the idea that you aren’t sure what you’ll get each week. It’s a wild card! Our CSA has a helpful link on their website to give us a general idea of what may be in our box each week, but sometimes it gets switched up a bit just depending on what they have. The good thing about the wild card concept though is that you get to experiment with new things!

Whenever I get a fruit or veggie that I haven’t had before, I usually do some online research to find recipe inspiration  – I always figure something out and I haven’t been disappointed yet! Here are some of the fun things I have discovered in my experiments –

  • Beets: I never used to eat beets, but now I love them! I’ve learned that they make great soups and I can also turn them into veggie burger patties!
  • Fennel: I’ve learned that the large bulb part of the fennel can be thrown into a stir fry and the green fronds make delicious iced tea.
  • Okra: I didn’t have any strong opinions or previous experiences with okra before getting it in our box, but now I love making air fried okra!
  • Cucumbers: I like cucumbers, but we’ve been getting a lot of them – so I’ve recently started making pickles! It’s fun to have homemade pickles in our fridge to top sandwiches or veggie burgers with. A jar of homemade pickles is also a fun little gift for a friend or loved one!
  • Shishito peppers: These ones are a little spicy for my personal taste (though I should say that I’m a baby when it comes to spice), but I’ve learned how to roast them up easily and my husband enjoys them on things like tacos and fajitas.
  • Eggplant: Okay, I’ve always loved eggplant. But we’ve been getting so much of it that I needed to expand my eggplant horizons so I didn’t make the same eggplant lasagna recipe every single week! I have discovered that eggplant works great in stovetop curry, and I plan on experimenting with babaganoush as well next time we get some.
  • Korean Melon: I had NEVER heard of this before our CSA – but it’s delicious! This one I just peel, chop up, and eat as a tasty snack!

So… are there any cons?

If having little to no control over the contents of your box every week isn’t something that floats your boat, maybe a CSA isn’t for you. HOWEVER, I will say that at first I was worried about this – and I very quickly adapted! I realized early on that I was able to find creative ways to use our produce every week and that it was totally worth it. I still plan out our meals for the week the way I always have, but I plan them out after I get our box for the week – that way I can create that week’s plan based on the contents!

I know I haven’t addressed price yet, so I guess I should! I do think that overall we may be spending a little bit more on our veggies than we used to at the store – but to be completely honest, it’s so worth it. I’m a big believer in the idea that if I’m going to splurge on something, it should be something that is good for my physical and mental wellbeing – and this definitely is! I know that I am eating fresh, organic, nutritious produce every week, which definitely contributes to my physical health. It also contributes to my mental health because it brings me joy – I love knowing that I’m supporting local, I love our weekly dates to the farmers market, I love experimenting with our produce each week, and I love eating yummy food!

As far as the price goes, I will say that there is also a cheaper “personal” sized box option through our CSA, so if we ever feel that we need to save a little more we could switch to that option, pay less, and still get a good amount of veggies! But for now we are happy “splurging” on our small box 😉 Some farms may also strike up a deal with you if you are willing to volunteer with them – so if you want some cheaper veg I would definitely recommend asking if you could volunteer once a week in exchange for some produce!

If you are interested to see what types of produce I get from my CSA, be sure to follow me on instagram – I often post “farmers market hauls” on my stories after getting our weekly box!

I hope this was a good summary of the many perks to joining a local CSA! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I encourage you to do some research and see if there is a CSA program in your area! And be sure to check out Johnson’s Backyard Garden if you are in the Austin area!

Until next time, stay well!

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