Today’s post is brought to you by the letters CSA. Say it with me, kids. C-S-A.
CSA is the national airline of the Czech Republic. It’s also the Casting Society of America. And also the Canadian Safety Association, whose logo you see above.
But it’s also Community-Supported Agriculture.
A CSA is a sort of co-op. You pay a lump sum at the beginning of the season, and in exchange, you get a weekly supply of fruits and/or vegetables and in some cases meat and/or dairy as well.
After the jump, some reasons a CSA is a good thing, way more of a good thing than, say, the Confederate States of America.
Before I get into my crunchy granola reasons for joining a CSA, here’s by far the best reason: A regular supply of fresh, healthy food for dirt cheap. My CSA vegetable share works out to about $15 per week, and a typical haul might include: 2 heads of lettuce, zucchini, radishes, chard, kale, snow peas, squash, fresh garlic, parsley, and cilantro. The quantities are generous, and I expect the variety to get even better as the summer goes on.
The quality is good (if it isn’t, that CSA isn’t likely to be around long), and a CSA share encourages you to try new things and to eat plenty of vegetables. CSAs are great to share with a roommate, as I do, but many offer smaller shares that are perfectly reasonable for one person. Many CSAs are picked up at a neighborhood site, but some deliver right to your door. End practical reason.
Cue crunchy granola reason: Supporting farmers isn’t some liberal guilt do-gooding crap, it’s just returning the favor. I want to see our farm subsidy system redically changed, but whenever I hear people refer to rich, greedy, or millionaire farmers, I cringe.
Farming is hard. Not in the manual labor sense, which is true, but in the making-a-living sense. Iowa corn farmers don’t grow corn because they’re greedy and want to give kids diabetes, they grow corn because the government incentivises them to do so. And even with subsidies and assistance, many farmers are fighting to keep land that’s been in their families for generations. Farmers aren’t getting rich on corn subsidies, Monsanto and Conagra are, and we’d do well to remember that.
Not to romanticize the American farmer too much. He or she wants to make money just like the rest of us. But they’ll happily grow fruits and vegetables instead of feed corn, provided we make it economically viable for them to do so. There’s a large-scale governmental approach to this, but that’s going to take some time. In the interim, by buying into a CSA, we can provide farmers with a guaranteed market for their produce and take on some of the inherent risk involved in farming.
Farmers feed us, so let’s make sure they can feed themselves as well. CSAs are a win-win, so find one near you and eat the change you want to see.