Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CSA All the Way!

I talked about my first experience with community supported agriculture (CSA) over a year ago, and over 400 days later, I still love my experience. Newlywed Next Door and I even had a conversation about how to pick a CSA, and I thought folks might be interested in what was helpful for me when picking a farm.

First, to find CSA in your region, try an internet search. Some areas have a very vibrant CSA community. My hometown of Portland, Oregon is a bastion of community supported agriculture - they have a coalition of all the CSAs in the area so you can search from one list in the Portland area, or even in the state.

Here are some factors I consider when choosing a CSA:

1) Flexibility - the CSA order I have has two pickup options - weekly or every other week. There's usually so much produce we have a hard time using it in a week so we love the every other week option. Plus, they offer ways to get substitute days (say if you'll be out on vacation) so you don't pay for food you won't use. Another great thing as far as flexibility - see if you have the option to sub out certain fruits or vegetables you don't care for. Not all CSAs will allow you to exchange fruits and vegetables.

2) Produce available - many CSAs typically offer food from their farm and they also partner with other farms for a wider selection of produce. But again, not all do - some just offer what's on their farm and it might not be a very diverse selection. It's worth looking into unless you'd be happy with just salad greens and carrots.

3) Cost - is it worth it to get a CSA? I pay 30 for a basket and it's essentially our only produce for the week. I build meals around what we get in our box. I honestly think it's on par with grocery store prices but the quality is obviously way better, so it's a better deal. We typically get about 8-10 pounds of fruit and veggies - this week we got lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, grapes, peaches, nectarines, oranges, carrots, a cucumber, spring onions, and radishes. But if you don't want to commit that amount of money to that much produce, the farmers markets are really good options.

And if you're in the Seattle area, definitely check out Full Circle Farm. They are a great farm with great people and awesome food!

Does anyone else use a CSA and do you have any thoughts on what else to look for?


  1. I can't wait to post about our CSA! Thanks for your help!

  2. Hey there! I found your blog through Me in Millions. I don't currently use a CSA, but seeing how 1. I don't like to grocery shop and 2. I want to learn to cook more and cook healthier meals, this might be an investment I look into.

  3. Welcome, WellHeeled! :) I love your blog - been reading for a few months.

    I totally think subscribing to a CSA is a great way to eat great, fresh and local, and it's great if you don't like to grocery shop. You still might have to get a few things at the store, but some CSAs (like mine) have a grocer, so they can supply you with dairy products, bread and even (gasp) chocolate! Good luck!