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How to choose a CSA

(post, Patricia Eddy)


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Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA for short) has experienced a huge boom lately. You could hardly find one just a few years ago, but now, there are CSAs everywhere. Half of the booths at the Seattle Farmers Markets advertise CSAs these days. When we set out to investigate all of these CSAs to pick one for ourselves, we felt like the choices were completely overwhelming. 

So, how did we pick a CSA? Well, I could tell you all about the CSAs and how much they cost and what their individual features are... that's all important information. In fact, I think you have to investigate all of that information at least a little bit. We even did a whole series on CSAs on our website (http://www.cooklocal.com/?cat=11). We got to know all about more than ten different CSAs in our area. I loved writing this series because the people that I was able to talk to were so passionate about their services. I wanted to sign up for every single one of the CSAs! But then, I'd be drowning in veggies and well... broke. 

So when it came down to choosing one ourselves, we did some soul searching. In the end, this is how we made our choice. 

We went with who we knew. You see, we do all of our shopping at the farmers' markets. The only times we set food in grocery stores are to buy wine (local wine), the occasional bagel for those mornings we just haven't managed to make biscotti ourselves, and to check out the ends and pieces cheese bin. So we know A LOT of farmers. We know many by name, and many others by sight and they know us. We chat as we're buying our asparagus or our beef, or our eggs. We ask them all about what their pigs are eating these days and we want to know how much longer the asparagus is in season. They ask us about our latest recipes and how our garden is coming. So we went with the farmers we most often talk to. We chose our CSA because we genuinely like the people who run it. We've had the head of the farm over for dinner and talked food over beer and football. We chose our CSA because we want to help out one particular farm. We want to see them grow and flourish, and we feel good being a part of that. 

So if you're looking for a CSA, and you regularly shop at the farmers markets, the right CSA for you might just be the CSA from the farm you shop at the most. Or the farmers you most often talk to. I don't believe there are many bad CSAs, so go with your gut, go with your heart, and enjoy knowing that you're helping out a local farm and getting some amazing produce at the same time. What a bargain!