Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has recently gained popularity by providing consumers local produce from farmers directly. The system of cutting out the middleman (grocery stores) was started over 25 years ago. The concept is to allow consumers to buy “shares” of local farmers. Basically, a consumer purchases a share at the beginning of the season for a certain price, and then collects their share of produce each week during that farming season.

This process delivers numerous benefits for both the farmer and consumer. Focusing on the potential benefits for the consumer includes

  • Introduce consumers to new produce
  • Exposure to new recipes and ways to cook the produce
  • Understanding how the food is growth
  • Build a relationship to the farmer
  • Fresh food, which means more favor and nutrients
  • Support local farmers and communities
  • Opportunity to visit the farm where the food is growing

Like anything else, there are potential risks. The consumer usually pays upfront, with the understanding of receiving their share each week. If produce is lower than expected, the consumer usually does not get reimbursed. Although, farmers tried their best to provide the most produce as they can; but there are cases where the season’s harvest is not as much as expected. It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with the farmer you are planning to buy a share from. Some question you may want to ask them include

  • How long have you been farming?
  • How many other members do you currently have?
  • How many members did you have last year?
  • How much food did you produce last season?
  • Do you have any references? Other members’ contacts information.

For more questions visit Local Harvest.

References

Chicago Foodies. (2010, March 6). Chicago CSA- Community Supported Agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.chicagofoodies.com/2010/03/chicago-csa-community-supported-agriculture.html

Local Harvest. (2012). Local Harvest:  Real Food, Real Farmers, Real Community. Retrieved from http://www.localharvest.org

Tis’ the Season

Every month there are different fruits and vegetables that are considered to be in season. August is the start of the season for cauliflowers, cucumbers, herbs, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Other fruits and vegetable that are considered to be in season during the month of August include:

  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Lemons
  • Melons
  • Mushrooms
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

For a more complete list of in season fruits and vegetables in August visit CUESA or Women’s Day.

Benefits:

There are multiple benefits for choosing in season produce. Since the produce is in season, it means local stores have these fruits and vegetables in bulk; which means consumers can purchase these healthy foods at a lower price. Along with lower cost to the consumer, the produce is usually better tasting when in season. Also buying seasonal fruits and vegetables means that you are supporting local farmers and reducing CO2 emissions.

Where to get Recipes:

Many times when you purchase local produce from farmers markets, they offer ideas and recipes for the in season produce. Also one of my favorite recipe books is Weight Watcher’s Fruits & Vegetables A to Z. In the book, the offer three recipe for each fruit and vegetable, as well as informing you when that produce is in season, how to choose the best one, and how to store it. You can find this cookbook on Amazon.

References:

CUESA: Cultivating a Healthy Food System. (2013). In Season Now. Retrieved from http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally

Illinois Department of Agriculture. (2001). Illinois…What’s in Season. Retrieved from http://www.agr.state.il.us/markets/WhatsInSeason.pdf

Morris, M. (2011). Benefits of Eating What’s in Season. Retrieved from http://life.gaiam.com/article/benefits-eating-what-s-season

Women’s Day. (2013). Seasonal Foods:  August. Retrieved from http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-shortcuts/seasonal-foods-august-82492