It may be only February, but now is the time to sign up for a Summer CSA folks! The days are getting longer and warmer, and the planting season is right around the corner…. Before we know it Winter will be long gone. Woohoo!
I received two emails this week from farms regarding the sign-ups for their CSAs…. AppleCrest Farm in Hampton Falls, NH and Brookford Farm in soon-to-be Canterbury, NH. I was a member of AppleCrest’s CSA last summer and purchased the localvore share – fruits, veggies, bread, ice cream, herbs, and flowers. It was a great value and a first time CSA experience! AppleCrest is one of the only farms in the area that offers a fruit portion to their CSA program – most CSAs are just veggies. When the summer season was coming to an end, I found Brookford Farm and signed up for a CSA with them and continued to do so through these winter months. Through Brookford’s CSA I receive a dairy share, veggie share, meat share, pork share, and a chicken and egg share – practically all of the food I consume comes from Brookford Farm.
I could go on and on about how much I love CSAs, but I would probably lose some of you… Hopefully I haven’t already! Below are my top 3 reasons on why YOU should purchase a CSA share:
1). Support your local economy! When you purchase a CSA share from a local farm, you know where your food is coming from…. Not from a mystery shelf in the grocery store or a sticker that reads Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, or California. It is coming from your own state! Over the course of the season, you get to know the farmer and his/her employees. You see them on a regular basis and are helping to support their farm – not a farm that is hundreds of miles away. Your hard earned dollars go directly into the hands of a hard working farmer – not packaging companies, large corporations, and the transportation industry.
2). The food is better for you! When you pick up your weekly CSA share, it is typically picked from the field that very same day. It is not picked, put on a plane, train, or truck, carried hundreds or thousands of miles from it’s original destination, sorted, packaged, then finally put on the shelf to sit and wait to be purchased…. When you calculate all that time, it is a good week or two from the time the produce is picked to when you purchase it in the store – that is a long time! Produce has it’s highest vitamin content, and therefore greatest health benefit, when it is first picked. The longer it takes to get to you, the more nutritional value it loses. Fresh produce = a healthier you.
3). (My personal favorite!) You try new foods! You never get the same produce in your share week after week. Yes, in August you will most likely get many tomatoes and ears of corn each week, because that is what is currently being harvested; however, chances are you’ll receive other veggies that were not in the previous week’s share, or a different variety of that harvested veggie (I.e. Different types of lettuce, tomatoes, squash, etc.) You get to experiment and be creative with the produce you receive each week. Chances are you’ll receive some produce you’ve never purchased before, maybe never even heard of before. Prior to this past summer I never purchased any of the following veggies: cabbage, radishes, sunchokes, Swiss chard, kale, and leeks – now some of these veggies have become some of my favorite veggies to eat! Having a variety of veggies in your diet allows your body to receive so many benefical vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
There are multiple types of CSAs out there. For example, some farms offer market style pick ups, while others offer you a pre-packaged share. Some farms make working in the fields mandatory, while others do not. A great resource for checking out CSAs in the Southern NH area can be found at Seacoast Eat Local. Also, this Saturday there is a CSA day at the Rollinsford Farmers Market from 10am-2pm. You can ask farmers about their CSA programs! For farms outside NH, check out Local Harvest.
Join a CSA! Your body will thank you!
Below are two pictures of some CSA shares I received this fall: