Is a CSA Right For You?
Our health coaches are interested in helping employees develop healthy habits that extend beyond physical benefits. This week, we’re taking a closer look at CSAs—which are not only a great source of healthy food, but also help develop community ties, a key aspect of social, environmental, and emotional wellbeing. Read on to see if joining a CSA makes sense for you.
Understanding how CSAs work
CSA stands for community supported agriculture: It’s a form of food production in which community members invest money in a local farm in advance, before the growing season. This allows the farmer to buy seeds, purchase supplies and pay laborers before and during the growing season instead of waiting until after they’ve started to sell their product. By investing up front, the community shares in the risks and benefits of running a farm. Once the food is grown, shareholders receive benefits by getting a portion of the produce; however, they also understand and accept the risks, like potentially having a poor harvest from weather or pests.
Once the growing season begins, shareholders can pick up their produce at a designated location, often once or twice per week.
Why should you join one?
A CSA gives consumers a choice regarding how they want their food grown. It allows them to choose a sustainable form of farming that minimizes food waste by producing only the amount that their members need. Another benefit members receive is that they are encouraged to engage in the growing process by meeting their farmers and visiting the garden where their food is grown.
CSAs also make it easier to obtain truly fresh produce. When food has to travel thousands of miles to the supermarket, produce is picked unripe and artificially ripened with ethylene gas during transport. This process is unnecessary with CSAs, since fresh fruits and vegetables are picked from the land at their peak ripeness and given directly to share members. By selling directly to community members, this practice also benefits the local economy and supports the livelihood of farmers in the area.
Find one near you!
Are you interested in learning about CSAs in your area? Joining a CSA is easy with some research about local options. The USDA’s CSA Directory can help you find one near you.