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Apr 11, 2008 10:09 AM

Farmers Markets vs. CSA

Which do you prefer and why? I've joined CSAs in the past but never loved the odd selection of produce I'd get and always had to go to the farmers markets anyway. I'm looking into it again but am thinking of just sticking with farmers markets. What do you do?

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  1. I'm not a morning person, so often farmers markets don't work with my schedule. My CSA pickup is later in the day, so that works out well. I like the challenge of the CSA - the items I usually wouldn't gravitate towards cause me to try new recipes and flavors. Helps push me out of my regular habits. Also, since the CSA p/u is at a specific time I go - it is an appointment. The farmers market often gets pushed to "later" since it is more accessible. Some days later just doesn't happen.

    OTOH, the farmers market is a feast of color, texture & scent. I love experiencing the bounty of it and being able to touch, sniff, fondle and make my choices. I also enjoy the rubbing elbows element to a crowded market - there is something very connecting in a tribe sort of way knowing that each of us is there doing our own gathering with similar intent. Like walking through a neighborhood in the evening and smelling dinners cooking and seeing windows warm and glowing. Makes the world feel happier!

    1. Our farmer's market is tiny and I often don't get over there on Saturday mornings early enough anyway - they close by noon and since I work full time, Saturdays are usually really busy for me. The larger markets in the area are too far away and inconvenient to get to. Things will improve in my area when the market cooperative opens up their new branch in my my town - looking forward to that.

      I'm trying a CSA for the first time this year to see how that goes. I know I'll get some things that I won't be likely to want or use (I was bit alarmed to see how looong eggplant season is here, lol) but I've got neighbors and co-workers so I expect I'll find someone who is delighted to have some fresh produce for free. I work with quite a few vegetarians, so that will help.

      And the dogs'll eat anything. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: romansperson

        I've got a cat who loves grilled eggplant. *G* I am longing to try a local CSA but with my schedule I just can't get there for their pickup schedule. I do love our farmers market. We have a booth there with fresh breads and pastries, and running out to give the clerks change and help set up gives me a great opportunity to buy produce while still working. The varieties are amazing - who knew there were so many types of peppers? And oh, those freshly picked cucumbers... heaven.

      2. Why not both? We have a half-share at our CSA that we treat as a sort of base for the week, and we supplant that with other things from the various farmers markets around the city.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          i second this idea! this is what we do... and we're planting a garden this year! we fully hope to have too much produce - we can always share with friends and family. :)

        2. I haven't done a CSA and don't think it's for me. Firstly, I like to be able to pick my produce. I'm a bit choosy and don't like to take stuff that I haven't inspected first. That's why I don't do mail-order deliveries like Fresh Direct or call a market and have stuff delivered. Secondly, I'm not really into the odd selections of produce that I get. Some people like that (got a friend who loves airline food because you're forced to eat what they put in front of you). But if I'm in the mood for a potato, I want a potato and don't want too hope that the CSA will give me a potato.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Miss Needle

            a note on produce delivery... i totally agree with you about wanting to chose my food for the same reasons. however, we've used delivery (webvan in the past and more recently, peapod), and we've always been bowled over by the exceptional quality of the produce. in talking with the peapod guy, he says that for the very reason that the customers cannot chose each piece of produce, they work very hard to ensure that all produce delivered is the freshest, highest quality. otherwise no one would be happy!

          2. I did a CSA here in Phoenix last summer. I liked the concept a lot and enjoyed the challenge of cooking what I was given rather than what I chose.

            But...summer was the wrong time to try this out and there wasn't tons of variety(summer isn't prime growing season in the desert obviously). we got REALLY tired of spaghetti squash and armenian cucumber which we were given lots of each week. Also, the quality was a bit hit or miss...again to be fair this was not the best time of year ot be growing things here. I should join for a spring or fall session to better judge on that aspect.

            We don't ahve a great farmers market near our house either. I love good farmer's markets and given the choice would probably stick with that over the CSA. But a good CSA would also be a great way to go. I think you have to think about if you'd be frustrated not having a say in what you're receiving each week.

            Try it for a season and see what you think!