Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture

Bon Appetit
When I used to live in South County, Gelson's and Sprouts were only a few minutes away. Now that I live in North OC, I have to drive around 15-20 minutes to get to Sprouts, Mother's Market, or Trader Joe's. 

In order to prevent waste, I have become accustomed to shopping 2-3 times a week for fresh organic groceries. So, making the relatively longer drive to Brea has been inconvenient to say the least. I still shop at Albertsons, Vons, and Costco, but not as frequently.

On top of that, my husband and I have been going to the farmer's market in Brea every week to get fresh organic produce. 

Ever since I found out about my non-Celiac sensitivity and have been doing the Repairvite gut repair program, I have decided to consume more raw and organic foods. .

All of this gave me the push to finally sign up for CSA. My friend, Geno, told me about this program last year when he read it in Bon Appetit magazine. 

What is CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program where you partner with a local farm. Every week, the farm compiles a box for you with items from its seasonal harvest. You usually pick it up at designated drop off locations or the farm stand. You pay upfront and commit for a minimum of a quarter (approximately 14 baskets). 

How do you find a CSA?

I looked up my local farms on the CSA website. Then, cross-referenced them against any that I found on Yelp, by searching for "farm" or "CSA". You don't necessarily have to choose the farm closest to you because another farm might have a pick up location just as close. 

Here is the criteria I used to choose my farm:

  • Close pick up location
  • Bi-weekly orders available
  • Organic 
  • High reviews on CSA site
  • High reviews on Yelp 
  • Good customer service (typically email correspondence)
  • Info on farm's website
  • Support your local farmer
  • Convenient
  • Discover and eat seasonal produce
  • Access to super fresh vegetables and fruits

Perhaps the cost is a little "premium," but I determined that I spend in the same ballpark anyway. I am willing to invest in my health and my husband's.
  • $30-$35 per small/regular box This is the size I chose
  • $40-$45 per large box You will get items from the smaller box in larger quantities, and even some exclusive items 
  • Some farms offer add-on's like juicing, salad, cheese & nuts, and themed (e.g., Italian)
After hours of research, I decided on South Coast Farms. It also happens to be one of the only farms that come to Fullerton anyway. If you're in the LA area, there are locations in downtown, the Westside, and Long Beach.

What do you get in your box?

Take a look at my earlier post on what I got in my first box.

How do you use box items?

The day I pick up my box, I write down an inventory of all the items and start a rough meal plan. Then, I determine what else I need to buy at the store (protein, garlic, onions, etc.) to make full recipes. I use my items for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and juices.
At first, I was concerned that the box would be too much for just my husband and I. But, I used my first box in less than a week! If only my farm offered weekly for Fullerton.
Here are additional tips on cooking from your CSA box. 

If you cook at home at least 3-4 times a week or have a small family, I highly recommend signing up. 

I'd love to know if you sign up for CSA, too. Let me know in the Comments below.

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