Finally Joined A CSA! (And What They Are)
Yesterday I blogged about the farm tour we went on at Tara Firma Farms and briefly mentioned us signing up for their CSA program. Today, I wanted to go into detail about what CSA’s are, why you should join them and how wonderful they are!
What is a CSA and how does it work?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Pretty much the way a CSA works is people pay for a share thus allowing the farmers to have a forecast of how much food they need to grow/raise to be able to feed the families signed up. These shares can be delivered to a local drop spot or can be picked up directly at the farm on a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis. The share can consist of meat, vegetables, eggs, other local miscellaneous items or a combination of some or all. We decided to go with a $60 meat share monthly to start out. Since this is new to us we are going to see how it goes and then adjust accordingly. We chose the $60 meat share because it gave us better cuts, i.e., rib-eye, NY steak. Originally we were going to go with the $30 share but decided against it because it was limited in the types of cuts.
Benefits of a CSA
When you join a CSA you become innovative. At Tara Firma Farms they rotate their cuts so members aren’t given the same type of meat every single time. This is great for you as a cook in your home because it makes you step outside of the box. In one delivery you may get cuts that you have never seen before or cooked with in your life! Don’t fear this because it gets you out of the norm and pushes you towards cooking something new. You never know, your favorite cut of meat could be one you have never dealt with before. Having a vegetable share also makes you become more creative in the kitchen because you are given seasonal vegetables. You may open your box and go…”What the heck, I don’t even know the names of these!” Don’t look at it as if your life is ending, look at it as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar and unique to the season you’re in.
When you join a CSA you are helping build the economy in your area. The money you put out goes into local, family owned businesses instead of some farm all the way in Mexico with who knows what type of methods they really use. Local type of businesses are the ones that will make the economy stronger (in more ways than one!) not big, industrial, factory farms. Remember, farmers who choose to farm sustainably are educated about the benefits for the consumer, their selves and the environment. They care about what they do and how they do it.
When you join a CSA you are supporting the environment and humane ways of caring for animals. You support the environment but reducing the greenhouse gases due to the growth of perennial grasses year round that process CO2 out of the atmosphere (growth of perennial grasses happen by rotational grazing). Rotational grazing helps the environment out by regenerating soil that has been overgrazed.
Farms that have a CSA more often than not treat their animals humanely and with respect. This is the only way animals should ever be treated- ever. Supporting this way of treating the animals enables you to have the most healthiest forms of food to feed your family. To simply put it, happy animals = nutrient dense foods.
When you join a CSA you are voting with your fork. If you don’t believe you are making a difference by buying meat that has been locally and humanely raised then change your thinking! The more money you put in the pocket of a local farmer the less money you are putting the pocket of the CEO of Tyson. Voting with your fork is extremely powerful. If the demand goes down for factory farmed meat, the less profit these corporations are making. They go where the money is. If they see consumers will not stand for inhumane ways of raising meat then maybe they will change their way — who knows. But at least you will feel better that you are being conscious of your choices.
When you join a CSA you are able to meet the people who take care of the animals and run the business. Nothing can be that in any way, shape or form. Period.
I’ve been wanting to sign up for a CSA ever since we moved out to California and I discovered what they were. I guess you can say the timing was never just right.
I went to the farm 2 weeks ago to buy eggs and they told me the eggs were only for members at this time. At that point I felt like the whole world was crashing down on me. What!?…but, but I just bought some 2 weeks ago?? Well, that’s one of the perks about being a member of a CSA, you have seniority before people just dropping in.
That was the final factor of making me sign up. I couldn’t imagine having to buy my eggs somewhere else. I could have signed up right then and there but they told me if I went on a farm tour, they would waive $5 off the one time membership fee of $15. To me, if I can save money, I will- especially because I’ve been wanting to buy one of their chickens to make some stock with and the chicken would cost me somewhere around $28 ($7/lb).
I’m sure some of you are gasping and checking your eye sight to make sure you saw the right price, but this is the price I am willing to pay to make the most nutrient dense stock and chicken I can. I am willing to sacrifice buying new clothes (which I desperately need) or getting a beautiful bouquet for mothers day (I made my husband take back a $77 bouquet he had bought for me, it was ridiculously over priced any way) for the opportunity to buy the healthiest chicken I could possibly get. To me, the long lived health of my family is the most important thing. I do have to say, it is definitely easier and more cost friendly if I were to go to Whole Foods and pick up a chicken for $10 but I want the best for my family. I don’t know if those chickens were fed soy or how much time they spend outside. Plus, I had been wanting to go on a farm tour so this was one more reason to make it happen.
We signed up the day of our tour and actually got our whole $15 membership fee waived! It was a great end to a perfect day. The weather was beautiful, the animals were happy, we became members, saved some money and helped our local community. One step closer to living the healthiest life style possible.
If you can sign up for a CSA, do it! Broaden your horizon, step outside of your comfort zone, and do something to support your local businesses.