What is a CSA?
- Bag of red potatoes
- Three types of squash-including butternut squash
- Bag of spring mix
- Bag of carrots
- Bag of sweet potatoes
In addition to supporting local farmers and getting to eat very fresh produce every week, a CSA also forces you to try new vegetables and fruits. Our CSA included an information sheet with everything we received, how to store it and ideas for preparation. They also sold a cookbook that included all of produce we would receive and had additional recipes on their website. So not only do you try new things, you also learn about them.
I have found that since participating in the CSA, I am more adventurous when I go shopping. I am much more likely to try new vegetables or fruits. Talking with others who have participated in CSAs, this seems to be a common theme.
If those weren't enough reasons, many insurance plans also give you a rebate for participating in a CSA. Check out your company's wellness initiative benefits to see if this is included. We found that the amount we saved in not buying as much produce plus this rebate really made this cost effective choice for us.
I will also say that for most households, you wouldn't need to buy any produce at all if you were receiving a CSA. Manatee and I are an exception in terms of the insane amount of produce we eat on a daily basis.
As I mentioned, Manatee and I may be an exception in that we both love produce, we aren't picky when it comes to produce and we eat a ton of it. If you are picky about what vegetables you like or you don't eat a lot of produce, a CSA may not be the best option for you. As I mentioned, we were initially told to get a half share since there was just two of us. If you are open to trying new vegetables but are not sure you would eat it all, most CSAs offer a half share option or offer to let you share a standard share (or even a half share in some cases) with another household. I know this is very popular in our area.
Some CSAs also overload you with certain types of vegetables. We have heard cases where people got tons of peppers or tomatoes but not much variety. We have also heard where some CSAs did not offer tips on preparation so people felt confused or overwhelmed with the variety of produce because they did not know how to prepare it.
In Madison, there is a CSA fair on March 13th at the Monona Terrace. Click here for more information. My friend who got me into CSAs told me that this is how she selected her CSA.
You can also check out this website to 'shop around' the Madison CSAs.
Manatee and I use Vermont Valley and we have been very happy. I am happy to answer any questions about our experience with them.
But I'm not a Badger.
Here are some websites for you non-badger readers.
Find a Chicago CSA
Twin Cities CSA Directory
Wisconsin Rapids CSA Directory