Nice to see a front-page feature on the growth of community-supported agriculture in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this week. The Strib story says that 11,000 Minnesotans are now receiving food through CSAs, which puts us a little behind the national trend (US estimate is about 270,000 households), but still great growth. (And, for full disclosure, much as I’m a huge fan of CSA, I have yet to get things organized and sign up for a share in the springtime. I suck. One does have to be a little intentional about this, although the internet has made it a lot easier to get connected, with sites such as Local Harvest.)
Favorite quote from the Strib story about why this is important, beyond just providing good support for farmers – you end up eating healthier.
“We’ve learned to eat things we never would have tried,” said Judy Goebel of Richfield, a member of Philadelphia Community Farm for more than 15 years. “Like arugula. The first few times, I wasn’t so sure. Now I’m crazy about the stuff.”
Amberson said she tried kale for the first time last year after finding it in her CSA box. “It’s a great way to introduce new vegetables into our lives,” she said. Her household is eating healthier since joining a CSA, in part because “I hate to waste anything. Last year, we’d have two or three vegetable servings at dinner when normally we’d have one.”
CSAs are also great for linking the consumer to the farmer’s world. You end up following the weather and rooting for the crops to grow. Even though we haven’t yet signed up for a CSA, my children and I do pick berries all summer. We’ve had a cold and wet spring here and we’ve been sad about the late and meager pickings for strawberries, just like our local farmers. Those of us up here in Minnesota can get pretty boring talking about the weather all the time. This at least gives us a good reason to do it.