Last summer my household went in on one share of a membership in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I was chomping at the bit to sign up for one of these after learning about them the summer before. After just one summer as a member, I need to spread the word!
So what exactly is a CSA?
“Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. In short, people buy ‘shares’ of a farm’s harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested.”
How It Changed My Eating Forever
We are lucky here in Durango because we have many options. I chose Long Table Farms where the two farmers are young ladies around my age, Morgan and Kate. Eating well and supporting women are some of my biggest passions! Man, as a result, summer was full of good eating!
It truly transformed my relationship with food and here is how:
- Sharing meals with friends. Over the course of the summer, we became close friends with our farmers. Our summer evenings were filled with delectable, home-made meals straight from the garden. Sharing this food with the people who grew it made me savor every bite. The company was everything! Being surrounded by good people is just as important for your well-being as what you eat. And when food tastes this good, you can’t help but share it.
- Food tastes so much better. Fresh+local+seasonal+grown with love+organic (actually)=FLAVOR! Honestly, this is one you’re going to have to experience for yourself. I’m telling you, your experience with a tomato will be incomparable. It’s amazing what impact soil health has not only on the nutrient-value of the food, but also the flavor.
- I actually started thinking about food waste. Before getting closer to my food, food was just another resource that seemed never-ending. I might buy produce, then forget to cook it or just get lazy and not cook it. As far as I was concerned, food came from the grocery store (turns out there are a lot of steps to get it there…) Knowing how hard Kate and Morgan worked to help produce this food made it much more of a priority to use every bit I could. Food takes the perfect combination of work, time, environmental factors and, as far as I’m concerned, a little bit of magic to grow. You bet we started composting too!
- I experienced the miracle of growing food. I started volunteering for a couple hours every week or so. Getting my hands dirty left me feeling a sense of calm and positivity. There are studies around this connection of dirt with mental health. Having a little bit of my own sweat helped develop an awareness around food waste as I mentioned above.
- My cooking got a lot more creative! I had the opportunity to cook with veggies I would never buy in the grocery store. Challenge accepted! This was a brilliant opportunity to try new recipes and flavors. Some I loved (fennel); some I wasn’t a fan of (I’m talking to you, radicchio). You can’t win them all.
The Bigger Picture of CSAs
Supporting CSAs does a lot more than impact your personal experience. It can have a drastic impact on the greater world as well.
- It’s better for the environment. The farming practices many CSAs use are more regenerative, organic and overall better for the health of the soil. The avoidance of toxic chemicals as part of the growing process bodes well for the environment and future of growing food. Additionally, when you buy your produce locally, it does not have to travel as far, also minimizing your footprint.
- It supports small farms. Small farms are more likely to grow unique heirloom crops. That’s why when you go to the farmers market you might see a version of produce you have never seen before. That’s because the stuff we get in the grocery store is a fraction of what we can actually grow and eat on earth (that’s big ag for you). More varieties=more nutrients. Let’s keep that food diversity alive.
- Supports the local economy. Self-explanatory.
- Better for your health. The sooner you eat a crop from when it was harvested, the more nutrient-dense it is. Every day that it sits in a truck or on the shelf at a grocery store, the nutrient value decreases. Plus, it tastes WAY better.
- It’s cheaper. You heard me right. Joining this CSA saved us a lot of money on produce in the long run. Yes, the upfront cost can be intimidating, but when you break it down, it costs around $30/week. So with three people living in my home splitting that, it’s only $10 a week for truly the highest quality produce out there.
- It’s easier. My box of produce was delivered to my doorstep every week. I could spend my beautiful summer days outside playing instead of grocery shopping!
- It lets nature do its best work. Eating seasonally and locally has another effect. Nature is brilliant and has a way of giving us exactly what we need for nourishment based on our environment. This is kind of a lost concept ever since we’ve created a world where we don’t have to get food from our immediate environment, but that does not mean it comes without a price. This one is a little less tangible, but try it out and see if you pick up what I’m putting down.
As you can tell, I think this is pretty darn important. Our health is a culmination of decisions we make all day, every day, and environmental efforts are the same. Human health and environmental health are directly connected, and while we can wait around all day for the government, businesses or others to make changes to improve the situation, we have options to take action on a micro level now. I hope I convinced you to consider joining this year.
If you live in the Durango area, I can’t recommend Long Table Farms enough. You can sign up for their CSA here.
If you don’t live in the Durango area, check out this link https://www.localharvest.org/csa/ to find one near you!