May 18, 2011

CSA (Janssen)

I've mentioned on my personal blog that I've signed up for a CSA this year (if you're not familiar with the CSA format, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and you pay an upfront cost to get a box of fresh (possibly organic, depending on the CSA) locally grown vegetables every week).

We subscribe to Johnson's Backyard Garden (which is an organic farm) and it costs $300 for ten weeks. We have some friends that we split it with (which also means we can split up the weekly pick-up), so it's $15 a week. It's a LOT of produce - we really have to work to get through it all.

Do I think it's worth it?

Depends on what your goal is. If it's to spend the least amount on food you possibly can, it's probably not worth it.

On the other hand, if you're trying to increase the amount of vegetables you eat, want to support local industry, and don't want to pay the really high sticker price for organic produce at the grocery store, this is a great way to go. For me, I've decided that it's worth a slightly higher price to eat better and put a fairly large percentage of my grocery budget into my local economy.

I feel like I've been able to keep our grocery bill fairly stable even with this addition, because I now plan my meals around our vegetables, rather than meat. Instead of vegetables being a side dish, they are part of practically everything we eat.

Plus, we've now eaten a ton of things I'd never tried before and very likely would never have purchased on my own (bok choy, rainbow chard, kale, escarole, fennel, etc). 

Anyone else do a CSA?

17 comments:

Carly said...

I'm pretty sure this is the same(ish) thing as "bountiful baskets" here in Utah.

I knew a few people in Cedar City (including my sister-in-law) who got their weekly basket of produce this way. I was intrigued, but could never get Jeremy to agree that it was worth a shot (and I could never get the website to work... or remember to have said sister-in-law show me the trick to getting it to work).

But last week we moved to Blanding where my mother-in-law is able to get a basket every other week (it's in the middle of nowhere and that's as often as it's available). Debbie (MIL) asked Jeremy to go with her to help sort the food and take our basket home... and it was the miracle assignment. He came home in utter awe at all the fresh fruits and veggies we got for $15.

I am looking forward to the good food it will be bringing in all summer... and to participating when we move to SLC in the fall. I love the way it makes the main dish the fruits and vegetables! (And I love the pineapples, mangoes, and cantaloups we've eaten this week.)

ACQ said...

I have been wanting to join a CSA for years but couldn't find one in my area. A few months ago I found out that a farm north of the city was going to have CSA dropoffs to the south, where I am, so I signed up. I love it!

Saskia said...

I've heard of them, but as I live alone I'd never get through the veggies. But I do buy my veggies outside of the grocery store: I go to our local farmer's market (which isn't high-priced organic but low-priced local and still sustainable/organic). I love buying a week's supply of vegetables and fruit for about 5 euros. I also like picking stuff up and asking my boyfriend: what is this and what am I supposed to do with it? You get some interesting new recipes that way.

Lisa said...

I would love to do it, but I live in the middle of nowhere. sad face.

Karina said...

That's weird. Same CSA, but mine cost me $33 per week. We need to talk.

Natalie {http://kickinitinthekitchen.blogspot.com/} said...

If I can remember to, I'm going to start doing Bountiful Baskets. I know several people who do it, and they all love it! It's $15 for a conventional basket, $25 for organic and everyone says it's totally worth it. There are extra things you can add (depending on availability) such as bread, cases of other produce, desserts, and pantry items. Sounds like a good deal to me, and it will help us incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diet ... something we're already trying to do!

Lady Susan said...

We are doing a CSA again this year. We found out about a new CSA that was starting this year and decided to give it a go. We like this one much better than the other CSA option in our area. Today Mr. F. came home with a dozen farm eggs, a huge bunch of green onions, 2 heads of broccoli, 3 heads of cauliflower, 3 quarts of strawberries, 2 cucumbers, a bunch of kale, and a head of lettuce. I have my work cut out for me this week.

French Lily said...

My mom used to do CSA's. I completely love the idea and hope I get to do one in the future. But right now, where we live in the city, they are way too expensive and inconvenient. We have an amazing produce store in our neighborhood that sells produce for so cheap, I just can't justify paying for a CSA. Someday...

Ashley said...

THANK YOU!!!! I appreciate this post that I feel was kind of just for me ;) I will be signing up for the local CSA today!

Packrat said...

Ditto Lisa, only we live even further than the middle of nowhere than she does. lol.

$15 a week for produce is a pretty good deal, but I prefer to pick out what I want. My husband is rather picky about what vegetables and fruits he eats. Hmmm, make that I am pickier than my husband. (Embarrassed.)

blaine and michelle said...

Funny, we signed up for JBG when we moved here. I split it with a friend, too. After 4 weeks we decided it wasn't worth it anymore. Although I love the idea of it, it wasn't working so well in practice. My 4 kids just aren't willing to eat bok choi 3 times a week, so it wasn't worth the price tag. Although I've heard that at certain pickup locations you can substitute different veggies for others. I should look into that.

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Noel Wright said...

We joined one when we lived in Kansas. It was the best decision we ever made. http://mitchellfamilyfarm.com/

Noel Wright said...

I wanted to add that if you want to try to find a csa near you to try searching: www.localharvest.org and also when we joined our CSA I wasn't sure if we would even eat half the things they offered. Some of the veggies I had never heard of but my husband and I (both kind of picky) agreed to try everything at least once. We were surprised at how tasty borage and kohlrabi was for example. Joining that csa was so good for us because we went from hardly eating veggies or trying new ones to wanting to try all the new stuff we could get our hands on. Here in Missouri, they are a lot more costly and we have a wide variety of organic farmers to buy from so we haven't this year, but if you can, I encourage you to join one!

Allie (Learningtobefrugal.com) said...

I completely agree. We just started getting a local box. Our meals are based on what comes in the box. We're also eating many, many more veggies than we used to (some meals in the past would be meat and potatoes or meat and pasta, no veggies). I'm also learning about new ingredients and trying many new recipes.

Allie
Learningtobefrugal.com

Anne Marie@Baby Makes Us Family said...

I've thought about doing a CSA but I wasn't sure if it was worth it. I'm still not sure if I've come up with an answer!

Jason said...

We joined Bountiful Baskets in July. We've had some veggies we had never eaten before and found that we really liked them. Our daughters enjoy the various fruits we receive each week. As our oldest daughter learned to make freezer jam, she is able to use the fruits on the verge of going bad if we don't get to them right away. And we can order extra of some items. A few weeks back there was an "Italian Pack" and I took advantage of the fresh veggies and herbs to make homemade spaghetti sauce - my family said it was the best I ever made.

To us the $15 a week is a huge cost savings. As we eat A LOT of produce each week, I was spending over $100 a week at Costco and almost the same at Whole Foods. Now I supplement my CSA basket and save lots of money.

Yes the basket is a lot of produce, but for a family of 6 we go through it pretty fast. There's always bananas and tomatoes, which we use. The grapes go fast. The lettuce is good for one or two meals. The other items fill in for various meals. It was a wise move for us and dramatically reduced our produce bill each week.