Spring and summer are my favorite time of the year for fresh produce, especially asparagus in the spring and peaches in the summer. Like a lot of people, I am making more of an effort to eat locally, supporting the farmers and food producers in my community. A great way to do this is to participate in Community Sponsored Agriculture or CSA.
A CSA is a program by which you invest a certain amount of money in a farm in exchange for "shares" in that farm. The "shares" entitle you to a box of fresh produce and, depending on the CSA, sometimes other farm products, weekly. The benefits are bountiful! You get a box of the freshest, locally grown produce each week and exposure to vegetables your family may not eat regularly. A majority of the CSAs grow their food organically, without pesticides or sprays, which makes the produce healthier and safer for your family as well as richer in flavor. Buying directly from the farm will also save you money as the produce is being sold below retail price. Participating in a CSA is also fun! Most farms will offer the chance to visit, a great opportunity for your kids to see where their food comes from. CSAs benefit farmers, too, as they are able to market their products before it is time to harvest, and they get an influx of cash early on in the season.
To find a CSA near you, check out Local Harvest and Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association. If you cannot find a CSA in your area, you can still support your local farmers by visiting farmers markets, eating at restaurants that use local ingredients and lobbying your supermarket to source its products locally.
Eating healthy, locally grown foods is good for your family, your community and the planet. Make a difference by joining a CSA.
[Image credit: Dolan Creek Farm]