First things first, a lot of you are probably wondering, what the heck is a CSA? CSA stands for community sustaining agriculture and is frequently also referred to as a farm share.
When someone joins, they pay a lump sum at the start of the season and then the farm sells their crops directly to that person. The initial payments from CSA members help cover the operating costs for the farm so that they’re able to drop off boxes of fresh veggies for their customers each week.
In the fall of 2014, I signed up for a farm share with Enterprise Farm mainly out of curiosity and a desire to eat more vegetables and I’ve kept up my subscription since. Oftentimes, my weekly box has produce in it that I’ve never heard of, expanding both my culinary creativity and my knowledge about sustainable food. The end result is a weekly, personal version of Chopped in my kitchen.
I’ve learned a ton from joining a CSA. To start, I interact way more with my food now than I ever did before. When I’m making soup with some celeriac, I actually know what it is, where it comes from, who grows it, and how to prepare it. It’s pretty awesome feeling like I can trace food from my bowl back to the dirt.
When I first signed up for Enterprise Farm CSA, I was hesitant that I would be spending more money on groceries than usual. However, I’ve found that it is so much cheaper (and also more convenient) to do a farm share than to buy boatloads of produce at the store each week. I split my box with a friend and it costs us $20 each per week. When you account for the quality of food you’re getting and the time you save at the grocery store, a CSA is totally worth it.
Think of all the times you’ve gone to the store, spent $60, come out with all sorts of food that you’re excited about, and then five days later you haven’t eaten any of the produce you purchased and you don’t know what to make with the wilted arugula, soggy mushrooms, and soon to expire package of meat. That doesn’t happen when you have a farm share because you get a week’s worth of veggies and they easily make meals since they’re all seasonally appropriate.
Being a part of a CSA has made me a whole lot better at cooking. After getting carnival squash for a month straight last October, I have come up with a wide variety of ways to eat squash – tacos, soup, salads, you name it.
A farm share isn’t the only way to achieve this sort of relationship with your food. You can be a devoted farmer’s market shopper, ask a TON of questions of the employees at the grocery store, or (what I personally think is the coolest way to know your food) be like my friend, Abby, and work on a farm.
Joining a CSA has been a total game-changer in how I think about what I eat. I look forward to opening up my box on Wednesday afternoons to see what adventure awaits me. I never would have guessed that a weekly box of vegetables would be my most educational college experience so far.