If you’ve been considering signing up for a CSA recently, you’re not alone. These days, they’re hotter than quarantine bread baking.
What Does CSA Stand For, and Why Is It So Popular?
CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA programs allow farmers to sell shares of their harvest directly to community members.
“Over 40% of our 2020 CSA members are not only new to our CSA, but this is the first CSA program they have ever participated in,” says Dena McQueen, owner of Wild Daisy Farms in Hartford, Wisconsin.
With many farmers markets being canceled or scaled back this summer, CSA programs give us a chance to soak up all of summer’s best flavors without missing out. “Members invest in local, small, diversified farms that support local families and a local food economy,” says Ali Schultz, co-founder of Sustainable Oasis Systems and sustainable food systems instructor. “That has always existed, but is finally gaining ground.”
We chatted with the experts about why CSAs are so popular right now, as well as how to take full advantage of their fresh variety. To learn more about supporting your local farmers, check out our complete CSA guide.
No. 1: CSA Is Grocery Shopping Made Easy
Rather than making your way through the crowded grocery store (be sure to wear a mask), local farms provide an easy alternative to grocery shopping. CSA boxes are often delivered right to your home or available for curbside pickup. “Our members will pull up and select items from their car window; then we will place [the box] at their car door or trunk and step away for them to load into the vehicle,” explains McQueen. “Simple as that.”
No. 2: We Have More Time to Cook
If you’ve been staying safe at home, you’ve probably noticed how quickly your dishwasher has been filling up each day. Many of us have been cooking more, and joining a CSA is a great way to add variety to our meals. If you can’t stomach the thought of one more loaf of sourdough bread, it’s time to branch out with fresh CSA recipes bursting with seasonal flavor.
No. 3: It’s Less to Worry About
Not only will your shopping experience be easier, but shopping from a local farm ensures that your food is handled by fewer people. “Our farmers pick your produce, wash it and box it for you,” says McQueen. “Versus all of the transport and handling involved in grocery store production.”
No. 4: You Can Eat and Be Healthier
As we each venture out of quarantine in our own time, it’s important that we continue to focus on our health. Eating a variety of fresh, local produce is a great way to nourish your body and help it fight off disease. “The value for the individual is a healthy, consistent food source that supports their family’s health and well-being, which in turn supports other families economically,” says Schultz. “The more we learn about COVID-19, the more we realize a healthy immune system is paramount in fighting off and preventing infection.”
No. 5: You Support a Local Business
During times of crisis, we all feel the need to help those around us. Local businesses have been hurting, so signing up for a CSA is a small way to make a difference in your community. “Our members are our family, we build relationships with every member and they really appreciate knowing exactly who is growing their food,” says McQueen. “And now more than ever, people are a lot more excited now to help support a local farm like ours.”
Find more ways to support local businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.