It is hard to believe that winter has finally come to an end! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and our hardworking Minnesota farmers are getting ready to plant their crops so that they are in full abundance for farmer's market season.
What is it about spring in Minnesota that makes us feel rejuvenated and ready to continue our paths towards a healthy lifestyle? We are still as busy as ever and being healthy requires just as much mindfulness as it does during the long winter. Buying into a CSA may be one of the healthiest decisions you can make for yourself and your family this spring.
What is a CSA?
I think of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs a trustworthy, fresh food subscription where you purchase a share in a farm's yield for that season. If you are lacking the time to garden, space for a veggie garden in your yard, or a green thumb, CSA options are the best way to have your cake and eat it too! You get fresh from the ground, organic, responsibly grown fruits and veggies.
How does it work?
Every farm’s program is a little different, but most offer a variety of packages that you can choose from based on your family's needs. These packages often vary in quantity and type of produce, and sometimes how often you will receive a box. Typically, you will pick up your share at a local farmer's market or a drop site near you.
Why should I join?
If you’re like me and feel that your responsibilities as a consumer in a grocery store are overwhelming, then you should read on. There are so many reasons to be skeptical about the products that we are offered in grocery stores. The consumer holds the burden of deciding which products are healthy, fresh and sometimes safe. I trust a box of produce from my local farmers more than the tomatoes from who knows where in the grocery section of a supermarket.
During the winter when our soil is covered in a foot of snow, we are limited in our ability to be a critical consumer because we must eat what is available, but during our short growing season we have more freedom to make wise decision about what we feed our family.
My favorite part about CSA’s is that you are in control. We are fortunate to live in an agriculturally rich area of the country, and we have a lot of farmers dedicated to growing healthy produce using sustainable practices and raising animals in a humane and environmentally friendly way.
What is a meat CSA?
A meat CSA is a lot like a produce CSA. It functions in the same way. There are drop sites, and usually packages are designed to fit your family’s needs varying in type of cut and quantity. One major difference is that a lot of farms raise only certain types of animals, so there are limited CSA options. Meat CSA's are a great way to get reliable, antibiotic and hormone-free, and humanely raised animal products.
CSA for the greater good
Supporting CSA’s support the planet. Every vegetable that we eat from our CSA box is a vegetable that isn’t shipped across the country. Every grass-fed beef burger we eat is one step towards reducing our carbon emissions. As we learn more about the impact that the big food industry has on our planet, we can choose to vote with our dollars by supporting farmers that are trying to reduce (and even improve) environmental impact.
How can I get started?
Simple! Download my Dietitian-Approved Minnesota Farms document and start reading about a wide-variety of farms that offer these services. This is a starting guide for anyone who is interested in CSA programs, but isn’t familiar with a specific farm that offers these services. This document was developed by Paige Pfaffe during her time interning at Ashley Oswald Nutrition.