So in our quest for healthier and more natural eating, we have finally joined a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a technically a partnership between the people of the community and a local farm. Customers buy a “share” of the produce from the farm, and during the growing season they receive a box of fresh food on a regular basis. We are using Full Circle Farm here in Western Washington, and though not a technical CSA because they also contract with other farms to bring more variety to the food that is offered, their service operates as one. All the food is organic, most of it is local, and it’s all really delicious! (Since it’s winter most of the fruits come from California and Mexico, but during the rest of the year most of it is local.)
So here’s what it looks like for us: I signed-up with their service on their webpage, and gained access to my account and saw what is coming in my first box of food. They pick an assortment of 12-14 types of fruit and vegetables, but the best part is that it is all completely customizable. For example, I don’t like beets, so I told them to never put beets in my box. This week they had several items I didn’t want, either because we’ve had them a lot lately or they weren’t foods I was willing to spend more on to get them organic. (Check-out the Dirty Dozen for how to choose which foods have the most pesticides and should be prioritized as organic.) So when I said I didn’t want any potatoes, I got to choose from a huge list of what else I’d like to get instead. And I also chose to double-up on Jazz Apples this week because we love them. So it’s not like people you don’t know are doing your grocery shopping for you and you don’t get a choice in the matter, you totally get to choose what you want.
I get an email with the contents of my box and an opportunity to modify them on Friday, and the next Wednesday afternoon I go to pick it up. They have lots of pick-up locations all around the area, so I picked one that’s close to me, and every Wednesday afternoon I drive a few miles over to someone’s house where there are a bunch of boxes sitting in their front yard. I look for the one with my name on it, and head home to discover the beautiful goodness awaiting me! They also have a delivery service, and for just $4 extra you can have your box delivered to your door!
Most CSA’s operate just during the spring and summer months, but thankfully this one operates all year. Additionally, most CSA’s require a one-time payment of several hundred dollars for all of the food you receive during the growing season. Full Circle Farm operates on a week to week basis, and if I change my mind, I can just cancel on their webpage. This was pretty much my deciding factor in choosing this particular farm since there are a ton around Western Washington. They also have what they call the Green Grocer where you can order specialty items provided by other local artisans and farmers like fancy cheeses, chocolate, coffee, butter, etc.. We usually get a couple of dozen organic pastured eggs in our box every week. This is the only place I’ve been able to find truly free-range eggs, like as in the chickens have been walking around in the dirt and eating bugs and laying eggs in a nest. (kinda the way it should be, ya know?) Eggs from pastured hens contain up to 20 times more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than those their less fortunate cousins, factory hens. Pastured eggs also have 10 percent less fat, 40 percent more vitamin A, and 34 percent less cholesterol than eggs obtained from factory farms.
So far we’ve been very satisfied with the food, and I love knowing that what I’m eating was picked less than 48 hours before. We’ve been eating a LOT more fruits and veggies than we used to, so even getting a Family size box (the large size they offer), I still usually have to go to the store before the week is out to buy a few more things, or just things that I don’t get from them like bananas. Here are some pictures of what our box contents look like:
This was our first order, a Standard size box.
Here’s what we currently get, a Family size box:
I encourage you to check out www.LocalHarvest.org to see if there is a CSA in your area (there probably is!), and if you’re in the Western Washington area or Alaska (yes, they deliver to Alaska!), check-out Full Circle Farm. They’re running a special right now where you can get $15 off your first order if you use the coupon code WINTERFRIEND2010. (If you mention my name, Emily Jones, as a referral source, I do get a discount on an order!) If you order a standard box which is $30, that means that you’ll get it for $15 total, you might as well go ahead and do it just once to see if you like it for that price!
I’m going to pick-up my box in a couple of hours, so excited to see what I get!!!