Community Supported Agriculture
By Red Jen Ford
Before managing a farmer’s market, I was a member of a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. At the time, the only CSAs available were of the traditional model: pay a flat fee directly to the farmer or coalition of farmers at the start of each season and reap (or suffer) the harvest. When on vacation, I either had to find someone to pick up my box for me or opt to forfeit my bounty. Now, many CSAs offer a more flexible approach that allows members to pay as they go, place vacation holds, and even choose to avoid the produce items they despise (yes, some folks still hate kale!). One useful tool for getting to know these new ingredients along with finding ways to prepare and enjoy them is the Food Lover’s Companion – Comprehensive Definitions of 6000 Food, Drink, and Culinary Terms. Of course, you can also just search online for new ingredients like kohlrabi and Romanesco, consult the harvest note sometimes included inside the box, or scan the CSA’s facebook page for recipes and ideas.
As a CSA member, not only do you reap the benefit of enjoying sustainably-grown and often certified-organic produce, but you also enjoy the added benefit of receiving what’s in season. Eating seasonally means eating regionally, and when you align your food choices with the bounty of nature in your local area, you maximize your energy levels and immune function – at least that’s what Ayurveda teaches us.
Although you can eat seasonally by shopping at your local farmers’ market, joining a CSA provides additional convenience and an added connection to your community. Many CSAs, like Tanaka Farms in Irvine, for example, offer opportunities to visit the farm and help with the harvest; pick strawberries in spring, watermelons in summer, and pumpkins in the fall.
Above all, joining a CSA may be the easiest and most valuable way to enjoy seasonal and sustainably-grown produce. For a flat fee that typically costs less than what you’d pay for the individual items at the grocery store or farmer’s market, you’ll enjoy a pre-selected box of produce picked at its peak of ripeness to ensure the best flavor and nutrition. And, this short distance from farm to box means that your veggies and especially your leafy greens will have a much longer shelf life.
To locate a CSA near you, visit www.localharvest.org/csa/. Enter your zip code, review the list of options to find a convenient pick-up site, and subscribe through the farm’s website or contact phone number. In most cases, you can choose a large or small box with weekly or bi-weekly delivery depending on your needs. Support your community and immunity with convenient seasonal produce – consider joining a CSA today.
Red Jen Ford is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and Manager of CorePower Yoga in Huntington Beach. Jen teaches the benefits and simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. redjenford.com
If you’re looking for a convenient CSA with delivery service? Look no further than Farm Fresh to You.
Farm Fresh to You was founded by Kathy Barsotti and Martin Barnes in 1976. Their farm, Capay Organic, is located in the Capay Valley in Northern California. They send regular deliveries of organic produce to homes or offices starting at $25 per delivery with the option to customize (go online to chose from seasonal fruits, vegetables, and flowers) and/or cancel the shipment at any time. Farm Fresh to You also organizes farm tours so you can scope out the soil yourself: farmfreshtoyou.com
Willing to coordinate a pick-up site? Try Tanaka Farms
Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California, has pick up sites available throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties: at your local Whole Foods stores, at various elementary schools where a portion of proceeds are donated to the school, and even at your local yoga studio. Through teaching Ayurveda and seasonal eating as part of our lifestyle programs at CorePower Yoga, we’ve worked with Tanaka Farms to set up our studio as a pick-up site. If interested, you, too, can have your own site with a minimum of 10 members. No need to choose between your yoga practice and local produce, you can have both: tanakafarms.com
Red Jen Ford is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and Seasonal Eating Expert. Jen teaches her clients the benefits and simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. Enjoy more of her dishes in her seasonal recipe booklets or her online course, Simply in Season: Recipes to Celebrate Healthy, Easy Seasonal Food.