Go Green: Farmer’s Markets and CSAs

If you are into the whole organic and locally-grown idea, but can’t find a farmer’s market or a farm stand near you, there are two great websites to check out, Local Harvest and Farmer’s Market Dotcom.

Farmer’s Market Dotcom has a state by state index of where to find all of the farmer’s markets in your area.  It’s pretty comprehensive and the site does have additional content about organics, such as a blog. 

Local Harvest has much more – a national locator that will help you find farmer’s markets, grocery stores or co-ops that sell organic foods and even restaurants that feature locally grown foods. It’s a great website and full of information about your neighborhood. Local Harvest also has information on something called a CSA, which is an interesting concept that you may or may not know about. Here’s how Local Harvest defines a CSA:

“A CSA (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become “members” (or “shareholders,” or “subscribers”) of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.”

This is an interesting new way to think about getting fresh produce, because unlike a co-op, which requires you to actually volunteer hours, a CSA does not necessarily. As stated above, a CSA asks you to support the local farms by becoming shareholders and sharing in both the joys and the financial responsibilities of running a farm. Usually you pay for a share or a half share, depending on how much food you want to get over the course of a season. The particular farm will tell you if they do expect you to put in some hours or not, and where you can pick up your food.  

This concept is a great way to bring organic and local food into your home and can end up being much more cost-effective than a trip to the farmer’s market, if that’s a concern of yours. We love the farmer’s market, but depending on your area, sometimes the pricing can be prohibitive for regular shopping ($9 for a 1/4 pound of artisan lettuce?). On the other hand, you may find some products at your local farmer’s market to be significantly cheaper than at the grocery store, since the farmer is able to cut out the middleman and the food doesn’t have to travel so far. Meanwhile, CSAs can enable you to get even more bang for your buck and may even deliver the produce right to your door!

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