Week 24: bok choy, turnips, broccoli, crimini mushrooms, onions, daikon radishes, and sweet potatoes.
Well, that's it! The Lancaster Farm Fresh spring and summer CSA has come to an end. Instead of showing you what I did with the bounty (you've probably seen it before, since I tend to eat the same things over and over), I thought I'd run through some positive an negative observations from my first CSA experience.
You know you're getting local, organic vegetables if you buy from a CSA. Sure, you can buy organic produce at even the big box grocery stores, but they aren't necessarily local.
You're eating what's in season right now. This means you're getting vegetables when they are freshest and taste their best.
I would rather pick up a CSA share than go to the grocery store or farmers' market. This is where having a convenient CSA pickup time and location is very important. Fortunately, mine was very convenient. There are many different CSAs out there, and if you're thinking about signing up for one, I highly suggest picking one with a location and pickup time that fits with your schedule and routines.
Having fresh vegetables every week cuts down on grocery trips. With so many vegetables in the house (and more coming every week), you really have to work at eating your veggies, and this means making meals centered around vegetables. With a well stocked pantry of basics, and vegetables galore, there was rarely any missing ingredient I needed to go to the store for.
A CSA is a good way to get more vegetables in your diet. If you are trying to cut down on meat consumption, a CSA subscription might force you to forgo meat a few nights a week, because there's just no other way to get through all those veggies. Even if you don't eat meat, you're still likely to increase your veggie intake, and that's never a bad thing!
Getting local, organic vegetables through a CSA is cheaper than the grocery store or farmers' market. This I'm not sure of (I only compared prices here and there), but I'm going to put the price of CSAs in the "positive" category. My half share at $17 per week for 4-9 vegetable portions per week, could be cheaper or more expensive depending on where you shop, how many vegetable portions were in each share, and what kind of vegetables you received each week. Cheaper than shopping at Headhouse Farmers' Market? For sure! Cheaper than other not-so-pricy farmers' markets and roadside stands? Sometimes. Cheaper than Whole Foods? Most of the time. Cheaper than the big box grocery store? Sometimes. In the end, I think $17 for the quality and amount of vegetables I received was fair.
Week 25: cabbage, crimini mushrooms, broccoli, buttercrunch lettuce, Japanese sweet potatoes, onions, and butternut squash.
If you tire easily of repeats, a CSA might not be for you. Certain vegetables can be in season for weeks, if not months, meaning that you'll receive some vegetables week after week after week.
You cannot pick and choose your vegetables with a CSA. If you hate X and Y, it will seem like every week X and Y is in your share. You will feel resentful that you spent money for vegetables you hate and will not eat. If you refuse to eat more than a couple kinds of vegetables — or dislike an entire vegetable family, like brassicas, which include kale, Brussels sprouts, collards, and broccoli, just to name a few — you'll be happier picking out your own vegetables at the store or market.
It takes dedication to cooking at home to eat through a week's share before the next one comes. If you eat out a lot, it will be almost impossible to keep on top of a CSA share. With a two-person household and a half share, if we ate dinner out more than once a week, we struggled with clearing out the fridge before the next pickup.Will I sign up for a CSA next year? Yes!
Fortunately, I like all vegetables, don't tire easily of repeats, and cook at home frequently, so the potential negatives of a CSA (or at least the negatives that I could think of; perhaps you have other thoughts) aren't really negatives for me.
Will you continue with a CSA next year? Why did you love (or hate) your CSA?