CSA Box Schemes: The Convenient Way to Shop

by Gavan on October 8, 2009

CSA Box

If I had a penny for every time I heard “I don’t have time to go to the farmers’ market”, well you know the saying. True, though they are rampant here in SoCal, they’re on during specific times that may not be convenient for everyone and if you live in more rural areas you may not have access to them at all. I get it. But I’m still pushing for LOCAL ORGANIC food, no matter how you can get it. A lot of supermarkets nowadays are carrying some organic produce so it’s defo becoming more accessible to Joe Public. This, very conveniently brings me to the latest craze in this movement, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and box schemes (as it’s called across the pond). It’s the most convenient way to get fresh, local and seasonal organic food delivered from farm to your doorstep. Literally.

We recently signed up for our CSA box program from Farm Fresh to You, a 240-acre farm located in the Bay Area as well as in the Imperial Valley (closer to Los Angeles). They also work with local area farms to ensure year round variety. I’ve been told we are receiving produce within 24-48 hours of being picked. Can’t beat that, especially since I don’t have to leave the house to get it!

Another beauty about shopping this way is that you’re more apt to try new foods. Since you’re getting seasonal food you’re bound to end up with ingredients you’ve never used before, which broadens your horizons and taste buds. In our first box we received lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, a variety of sweet peppers, grapes, cherry tomatoes, oranges and apples. I’m telling you, the grapes were the best I’ve ever had and overall the quality was great. Though I use a lot of red bell peppers in my cooking, sweet peppers are not so common for me to use. That’s what I mean about trying new things–it forces you to think outside the box, so to speak.
(Check back on Saturday for a recipe–I made a delicious roasted sweet pepper hummus for m’lady.)

First CSA Box

I bet you’re thinking it’s got to be expensive, right? First off, let me say your health is worth every penny. Secondly, it’s not bad! Every other week we receive a small mixed box of fruit & veg which costs us $23, though we do tend to plow through it in less than a week. We’re considering trying the regular box, which is $31.50 or switching to weekly deliveries. Do you think that’s expensive? I can easily blow 20+ quid at the farmers’ markets per week, what about you? Think about how much you spend a week at the grocery on produce, whether it’s organic or not. Then think about how “fresh” your produce from the grocery really is. Some food travels hundreds of miles before you get it and goes through many stops along the way, with every stop getting a piece of the “money pie.”

Image and great article: Consult Mark Blog

(Image and great article: Consult Mark Blog. Click photo to read article.)

In an article published by The New York Times, some shoppers are even becoming shareholders in local farms cutting out the middlemen completely. Hmmm…maybe I should look into that! But for now I will stick to shopping at my farmers’ markets and with the box schemes.

Have I peaked your interest? Here are some links I’ve put together to help you find an organic box delivery in your area.

USA:
Local Harvest
helps you find local organic farms, farmers’ markets, Co-op’s, CSA’s and more.
Ireland:
Sustainable Ireland Box Schemes

Absolutely Organic
Bord Bia find local farmers’ markets
England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland:
Soil Association find local CSA’s
SmarterFitter a great blog post highlighting fruit & veg boxes. Here’s my favorite part about their post referring to why it’s worth it:

  • We get to eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • We get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Our food doesn’t come packed in a whole bunch of extra earth-polluting plastic like it does at the supermarket
  • We get to support local farmers
  • We get to feel good about the food we eat and where it comes from

Couldn’t agree more!

Are you a member of a CSA? How do you feel about it? Recommend your favorite to our readers!

And if you live in California, here’s a coupon for new customers if you mention I sent you along with promotion code #6164 for $5.00 off your first delivery from Farm Fresh to You. Cheers!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Siobhan Palmer October 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Great post Gav. I started using Farm Fresh to You after you tweeted something about them. We get a small box of mixed fruit and veg every week and it’s been great. We’ve had about 4 deliveries already. I get veggies and fruit I would not normally buy and it forces me to look up recipes to use them. It also means my 3 year old is introduced to fruits and veggies that I might not think of giving him. The quality has been very good and I look forward to my weekly delivery. I can’t wait to get the recipe for the roasted sweet pepper hummus. I got a bunch of them in yesterdays delivery. Hurray!!

Kristie October 22, 2009 at 11:42 am

This is so fantastic that you are using your celebrity to support organic, sustainable, and local farming. My community is very progressive and already so good at this; it’s just part of our culture now that so many here have been working hard to proliferate. My favorite are the ed. programs for kids that allow them to tromp around the farms, see how food grows and experience with their senses all that growing and eating good food entails. I am posting a local farm link for an inspirational example of how it is done on the north coast of CA.

http://www.redwoodrootsfarm.com/index.php

-K

Gavan Murphy aka the H.I. November 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Thanks girls.
Delighted Siobhan. Great news that your young fella is trying these new fruit and veggies. We love the delivery and just saves me from having to go to the store every day.

Hey Kristie. I love this ed. idea of showing the kids that food doesn’t come out of a box and letting them see it for themselves. We’ve turned some of our neighbours onto this idea as well so I’m glad to see people are embracing the idea. I checked out your link too, very impressive.
Thanks K.

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