There’s a really easy way to force yourself to try new, healthy foods and eat locally all summer long. Try a CSA! CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. You pay a flat rate per season to get a box delivered each week filled with seasonal produce from local farms.

Many CSAs deliver to a centralized location (like your office or a community building) and some will even deliver straight to your door. The food is delicious, fresh, and worth every penny.

I’ve participated in three CSAs and they’re each a little different. Most are around $25 a box per week for a small share, which typically provides almost enough vegetables for two people for a week. Some include fruit, eggs, or cheese, but others are just vegetables. My office, Opower, which is located in Arlington, VA participates in the Earth Spring Farm CSA. You can find one close to you here.

Five Reasons to Try a CSA

  1. Healthy Foods – CSAs are big boxes of local vegetables and fruit (although some CSAs also allow you to buy extra items like eggs and honey). There’s no better way to force yourself to eat a lot of vegetables than to have them show up automatically.
  2. Variety – Each week, you get a mix of different vegetables. If you’ve never bought into a CSA, I guarantee you’ll learn about some foods you’ve never even heard of before. For me it was things like mizuna lettuce and shallots. Along with a variety of vegetables comes a variety of healthy vitamins too.
  3. Convenience – Instead of going to the farmer’s market every week, the farmer’s market comes to you. That saves a lot of time.
  4. New Recipes – Finding new ways to eat everything in the CSA has turned into a competitive game (against ourselves), which is great because we get to try new recipes as well as new ways to cook ingredients we already use. Allrecipes.com is my go-to site for new recipes. You can type in one or more ingredients like “kale potatoes” and it will return recipes you can make with those items.Try a CSA - allrecipes.com
    Each recipe is rated by users and includes comments from people who have tried and modified it. It’s an excellent community. Similar sites include epicurious.com and food.com.
  5. Gifts – Inevitably, there are weeks when you’re out of town and can’t use the CSA, so I give my box to a friend. It turns out people LOVE getting fresh produce and sometimes will even surprise me with a delicious treat they made with something from the box.

I’m a big fan of my CSA. Why not try one next year? Visit localharvest.org to find one near you.