Having access to fresh, quality produce is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet. When your children grow up with an abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables, they may become used to grabbing for healthier snacks. One way to do this is by signing up for a CSA subscription box. Here we explain what a CSA is and how your family can benefit from eating local.
What Is a CSA?
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A CSA, or community-supported agriculture, program is where you can support local agriculture. Although CSA programs can vary from farmers markets to buying locally, most people think of a CSA as a subscription box filled with local produce from a farmer in your area. You can choose to get this box on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis depending on your family’s needs.
The Benefits of Joining a CSA
Eating locally comes with many benefits, such as:
- Your food is in season. Nothing’s worse than buying a carton of strawberries from the grocery store only to see that they are bitter and moldy a few days later. When you sign up for a CSA box, you may not get strawberries in November, but at least you’re getting the freshest food possible. Your CSA is only going to contain fruits and veggies that are in season, ensuring that you get more nutritious, flavorful food.
- They encourage healthy habits. Having fresh produce around makes it easier for your family to grab healthy snacks. Instead of filling your cabinets with processed food, you can fill your fridge with healthy and delicious produce.
- Supporting your local economy is much easier. Rather than planning time to hit up the local farmers market, you get fresh produce right to your door. Even if home delivery isn’t an option for your CSA, you can easily pick up your whole box of produce in one trip. Along with this convenience, you are supporting your local economy by shopping from farmers in your area.
- You save money. Since you are getting food in bulk, you tend to save with a CSA. While fruits and veggies may drive up your grocery bill, a CSA can help you cut some serious costs.
- There’s a chance to experiment. When your CSA picks out unique fruits and veggies for you, you may be more apt to trying new recipes. You never know what exciting new item may be in your box.
How to Find a CSA in Your Area
Use these tips to find a CSA in The Woodlands, Texas, area:
1. Use a CSA Directory
Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see that there are many different CSA directories to choose from. Many of them feature filters that allow you to search by zip code or miles from the farm. Remember, one intention of a CSA is to support more sustainable farming practices. Avoid choosing a CSA that is too far away, or else you may be wasting a lot of gas to pick up your box and bring it home. We recommend looking at the USDA’s local food directory.
2. Ask Around
As more families learn about local CSA programs, you may be able to get a referral from a family in the area. Ask what kind of plans they have and what they like most about their program. See if they have the contact information of the farm they are working with.
3. Visit You Local Farmers’ Market
Visit your local farmers market to connect with farmers in person. For instance, The Woodlands Farmers Market takes place on Saturday mornings. This way, you can see what their produce looks like up close and get a chance to actually meet who is growing your food. Inquire at the stands to see who has a CSA program. You could even see if they have a website that you could check out.
How to Choose the Right CSA for Your Family
When choosing a CSA for your family, follow these steps:
Know the Commitment
Every CSA operates a little differently. Some deliver right to your home, while others require you to pick up your box at a specific time and date. Make sure to choose a program that fits within your family’s lifestyle. Likewise, some programs even require you to volunteer at the farm for a few hours each month. Determine if you have time for this commitment.
Choose by Quantity
Get to know how often you’ll receive a box and how much food is in it. Don’t get a CSA that has more produce than your family can reasonably consume. Instead, see if you can purchase a smaller box or even split the box with a neighbor.
Learn About Selection
Ask each farmer for a list of their produce by season. Some farmers may specialize in fruits and veggies only, while some may be able to offer meat, eggs, and dairy products. Ensure that the program you choose aligns with your family’s dietary needs and offers food you will actually eat.
Not every CSA costs the same. Do a little research to find out which program is more cost-effective for your family. You may decide that you’re willing to pay a little extra for organic. Likewise, you may prefer a box with less expensive options. Take a look at your current grocery budget to help you make this decision.
Find out the Farmer’s Communication Style
If you’re someone who can’t make plans last minute, then you want a farmer who communicates well. See if they have a Facebook, Instagram, or blog that they regularly update. Even subscribing to a newsletter is a great way to learn about upcoming news and announcements. Make sure you find a farmer who is easy to communicate with, especially if something comes up last minute.
Subscribing to a CSA program is a great way to incorporate more produce into your family’s diet. By looking for CSAs in the Houston area, you can support local agriculture and maybe even save some money. Contact us at our preschool in The Woodlands TX if you find a local CSA that you and your family love.