10 August 2011

A Word About my Vegetables: CSA Basics.

This week's CSA share.

I get a lot of questions about my vegetables, but even more questions when I remark that they are from a CSA. 

"What is it? Do you like it? Is it a good deal? Is there variety? What if you don't like Okra?"

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way for consumers to purchase local food directly from a farm.  Each farm may offer different programs, but the concept is fairly basic. The farm offers a certain number of "shares" for sale each season for a fixed price. The portions tend to be very generous as you're sharing in the harvest and not paying by the pound. The buyer usually receives a weekly delivery at a local drop-off location.

Every Thursday I visit the farm's website and select up to six of the items (vegetables, herbs and sometimes fruit) that the farmer has listed and knows will be ready to harvest. The share has been prepaid at the beginning of the season, so I feel like I'm shopping without any guilt. The following Tuesday, I find these vegetables packed in a box on someone's porch in Center City Philadelphia bearing my name. I transfer the items to my own bag, flatten the box to go back to the farm for the next week and head home with thoughts about what I'm going to make with the weekly share.

The vegetables have literally been picked the day before they are delivered, so they are almost guaranteed to be ripe and fresh. They may not be as beautiful as the neatly stacked items in a supermarket, but a little bit of dirt and irregularities will remind you of the fact that these vegetables are not mass produced and designed to sit on shelves after a long transport. 

If you don't like Okra, don't select it. Or give it to your neighbors.


  1. Well said. Since it is so easy to search for recipes by ingredient now, this is a great way to try something you may not be familiar with...
    For instance, what am I going to do with the cardoons I thought would be so cool to plant back in the spring?

  2. What ARE you going to do with Cardoons?


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