Malcolm McDowell Woods
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News you need to know

By - Apr 5th, 2010 04:00 am
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Thinking about joining a CSA? Here are some things to look for, and what to ask
Joining a CSA for the first time? Looking for a new one? Not sure what a CSA is?

Well, join the CSA club.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a wonderful cooperative venture in which members of the public pay for a share in a local farmer’s produce. Members receive a regular delivery of fresh food, determined by the week’s harvest.

The benefit to farmers is that they have a reliable, regular customer base. The benefit to the customer is that they have access to fresh, often organic, locally grown produce. The CSA experience can be a very rewarding one for both parties. But it can also run into some hiccups, so it pays to understand your needs and wants before you sign up for a share.

What to consider when shopping for a CSA:

  • Convenient pickup locations
    Your bushel of food will not be dropped off at your door for you; you will be expected to drive to a pre-determined pickup location on delivery day. Obviously, you will want this to entail as few miles as possible.
  • Organic or not?
    To some people, this is absolutely non-negotiable. For others, local matters more than organic. Know what you are signing up for and everyone will be happy.
    Variety
    Some CSAs deliver produce only. Some feature eggs or meat. Some bring in shipments of nuts to compliment the food they grow on their farm. Check the menu, so to speak.
    Payment options
    If you can’t afford a one-time payment when you sign up for a member share, look for a CSA that allows you to pay monthly. Also ask about payment options. Can you pay with a credit card?
    Bonus features
    Some CSAs provide you with a little support. That may come in the form of a staff member on hand at delivery to walk you through your basket of goodies. It may come in the form of a newsletter giving advice on preparing your food, or even suggesting recipes. Some CSAs invite you to visit the farm, especially during strawberry-picking time. Many families will choose a CSA based on the fact that they can feel closer to the source of their food by actually visiting it.

Where to find a CSA
For a list of farms participating in CSA programs in 2010, go to the Urban Ecology Center’s web site. Staff at the UEC are dedicated to this kind of slow food and their site offers much advice. The center also hosts monthly slow food potlucks for those who wish to take their involvement a step further.
Happy eating!

Join us to watch the award-winning documentary, Food, Inc., at the Times Cinema
Food, Inc., lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, explaining how our food is now largely controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of health. Join the Exchange for a free showing of this terrific documentary, nominated for an Academy Award. Sunday, April 11 at 1:30 at the Times Cinema, at 60th and Vliet.

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