Ron and I have received one weekly (for less than $22) for the past 15 months, and it's completely changed our lives. We feel better, certainly, and both of us have pleased our family doctor with the health results of eating fresher. (And yes, we've shed a few pounds, albeit far too slowly, as always...)
Because of our weekly carton from Abundant Harvest Organics, we've also learned to savor simple taste pleasures of nature... the tangy crunch of a newly picked Granny Smith apple, the bursting juiciness of a peach fresh from the tree, the melt-in-your-soul sweetness of corn picked and packed just days ago. Our daily and weekly meals now revolve around produce, with meat, dairy and breads as add-ons.
An unexpected side-benefit is that Ron and I now live with more imagination... in cooking, in eating, in experimenting, in creating. Even in Googling some unfamiliar oddity. (That's kohlrabi? What is a Chinese flat peach?)
Most CSAs (aka, community-supported agriculture) are local family farmers or consortiums of small, local family farms who band together to sell their organic and non-organic produce, herbs, eggs, dairy, and grass-fed beef directly to American homes. "Community-supported agriculture (in North America sometimes known as community-shared agriculture) (CSA) is an alternative, locally-based socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution" per Wikipedia.
To my beloved conservative friends (and son!), NO, CSA farmers are NOT a bunch of sprouts-munching liberals. In fact, they're all hardworking entrepreneurs who harken back to the farming practices and craftsmanship of our grandparents and great-grandparents. They seek to bypass the processed-food faults of late 20th century industrial food farming practices.
Our chosen CSA "is an alliance of small family farmers in Central California dedicated to growing superior organic produce and getting it to you in the simplest manner possible—and without the use of chemicals or packaging materials." Abundant Harvest Organics promises:
- Unparalleled taste: varieties are chosen and harvested for taste and nutritional value rather than shelf-life and aesthetics
- Superior quality and value, fairly priced significantly below retail value of the same product from your grocer
- In Season—our produce is always fresh from the field
- Locally grown: investing in our community’s people, its resources, and its physical, as well as economic health
- Fresh, fresh, fresh—from the soil to your dinner table!
Our chosen CSA delivers in many California regions, and due to demand, is rapidly expanding from its current customer base of 5,000 California homes. (Click HERE for delivery locations.) I love the way this CSA connects us customers with the farmers, too. This cancer-survivor farmer's testimony, at Who's Your Farmer?, might touch you as much as it does me...
CSAs are available throughout California and across the nation. One that really impresses with its generosity, energy, and real food activism is Fair Share CSA Coalition, based in Wisconsin.
CSAs delivering near you can be found by Googling by state, of course, or at these sites:
- Local Harvest: Real Food. Real Farmers. Real Community.
- The USDA Community Supported Agriculture website
- Rodale Institute's Farm Locator website
Yes, If I could give just one glorious Christmas gift to each and every loved one this year, it would be a weekly CSA delivery of freshly picked produce.
I'm hoping that sincerely telling family and friends about my CSA wish for them is the next-best-thing, and will inspire them to join us in eating healthier while supporting family farmers and local economies. Merry Christmas!