Organic CSA Farms: Fresher, Local Food for Your Family

Lil-E-picking-raspberriesEver wonder where your food comes from and worry what you are feeding your kids? Don’t we all? A few years ago we started buying into a local organic CSA farm (or Community Supported Agriculture) and we have never eaten so well.

Here are the basics of how a CSA works: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. When you buy from the farmer you receive seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. It may be kale, carrots and turnips and the next week it could be cabbage, summer squash and tomatoes. It all depends on what your particular CSA grows, what is ripe that week and how much of it is available. You could also get the option of buying, fruit shares, meat shares or other options. All are generally from a network of farms in your immediate area so the food is ultra-fresh.

Typically with a CSA, you’ll get to visit the farm at least once a season. Some also offer a “pick-your-own” option where that week you’ll get to go out in the fields and pick two pints of sugar peas, a bunch of flowers or a quart of raspberries…whatever is fresh that week. If you have children old enough to help, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn where their food comes from by getting their fingers dirty.

Joining a CSA also exposes you to new vegetables you may have never heard of and new ways to cook them. I never would have known what a kohlrabi was before or what the heck I was supposed to do with it. It’s a bit like being on Iron Chef – the local edition. You never know what you are going to get each week. If there is something new you’ve never tried before you can ask other “shareholders” or the farmer if they have some recipes they’d recommend. Joining a CSA will undoubtedly broaden the spectrum of your cooking prowess.

An alternative to buying into a CSA for the whole summer is to find a farmer’s market near you. These offer you fresher food than you could find in most grocery stores. Particularly since the food is delivered directly by the farmer and has usually been picked a few hours before the farmer’s market.

The point is Lil’ E is 21 months old and he LOVES kale. He will inhale an entire plate of zucchini. I can’t say for sure that our being a part of a CSA since he was born has influenced that, but I look at other kids his age eating their plates of beige and bland food and I know something is working. Maybe next month he will decide to only eat food that starts with the letter “Q” but for now I love how open he is to trying new foods.

The website is a great resource if you are looking for a CSA or a farmers market in your area. Are you a member of a CSA or do you hit the local farmer’s market on the weekend? What are you doing to broaden the spectrum of your children’s diet?