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CSA ~ glad it's finally over...

Funny how things have changed in just a few weeks! 20 weeks ago, hubby and I were really excited to receive our very first box of CSA produce. 20 weeks later we are so happy that it is finally over. Are we the only ones to feel this way about CSA?

We decided to sign up for CSA for the following reasons:
- "force" ourselves to eat more vegetables
- we expect the CSA stuff to be much more fresh than the store bought stuff and hence taste better
- we expect to find more varieties than what's available in the store
- we like the idea of being "surprised" every week

What makes us decide to divorce CSA:
- while the vegetables we receive are fresh, they don't necessarily taste good - we are particularly disappointed by the tomatoes that don't have a good tomato taste and corn that are not sweet
- although we did get a varieties of vegetables in every box, the varieties we receive every week stay the same for most part
- it's not uncommon to receive vegetables that we ourselves would not pick up in the store (e.g. brussel sprouts that are as small as grapes and corn that comes with worms)

Although we do like those who are involved in CSA and how they do business - they are honest about what we can expect to find in the box every week, our CSA honeymoon ended sooner than we had expected - and we are glad that we've only made a 20-week commitment, not a lifetime one...

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  1. Last year was the first year I was in the CSA and the first year the farm was doing it. So after the season was over they sent out a questionnaire, so I could comment about the things they might need to make adjustments to. We got so dogbone much lettuce that first year--WAY more than the two of us could eat. So I told them that. This year was a bad year; everything started late, and the variety wasn't good because there were just some things that plain didn't grow. It was chard for weeks and weeks and weeks.

    I'm usually glad when it's over, too, but after the winter I'll be looking forward to it again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: revsharkie

      Oh lord have mercy I feel you on the lettuce. I get a box every other week, and there has been lettuce (at least 2 heads, as many as 4 heads) in EVERY SINGLE BOX. I secretly love the "off week" when I don't have to eat a dang salad!

      But otherwise, we've gotten a great mix of all sorts of things, including other greens and things I wouldn't normally eat very often. It's done a pretty good job of broadening my horizons. (though sometimes I wish there was more fruit and less veg in the box)

    2. We have done a CSA for 5 years, and I hate it when the season ends. The first year, I was a little happy because I missed a few veggies that we would eat a lot, but then after awhile our diet changed to get used to the different veggies. Now, I hate having to choose veggies from the store or farmer's market! Just too many decisions to make : )

      However, our CSA is very good. The tomatoes are fantastic, and we rarely get poor produce. And the produce lasts much longer than from the store because it is so fresh.

      1. I'm sure quality varies widely by CSA. Ours seems good. Yes, most of the time the stuff isn't as pretty as in the store, but the stuff we are getting is organic (except on rare occasion when they get stuff from neighbors and inform us otherwise), and the stuff in stores is often grown to look good at the expense of taste. Our corn this year was fantastic (we are in southwestern PA).

        We are in our second year of the CSA, and I think so far this year we have had a bit more trouble getting through everything (just the two of us). Our CSA allows us to record a "never eat" list, and they do their best not to give us those things. It works for all but a few weeks. We don't use beets, for example, but we did get those a few times. We find folks at work or whatever who will use them. We got one cauliflower all year, which we gave away. I think we got chard or kale once or twice. (We didn't have those on the list last year, but we found it just wasn't something we were interested in, even after trying to use them.)

        Still, I think we are eating more veggies. They've also done a great new thing this year in hooking up with a couple of local cheese producers to get cheese once a month. They grow mesclun greens which are really fantastic for a salad. All different types of lettuce, different tomatoes (they grow San Marzanos as well as some heirloom varieties), jalepenos and tomatillos (not as many of the latter this year, unfortunately), various other peppers, the list goes on and on. The variety varies by the time of year. No mesclun in the middle of summer :-(. Right now we get winter squashes and more potatoes, apples and cider, etc. in addition to lettuce and mesclun. Our season continues until just before Thanksgiving.

        Anyway, that's enough about ours. Perhaps there is another CSA option in your area that would be better? It's possible that you won't be satisfied with any of them, or possible that all in your area are mediocre, but I wouldn't think that your experience is typical of CSAs in general.

        1. Do you have other CSA farms in your area? We've bought shares from two farms over the past few years, and we've been so spoiled. Farming is something with a skill level like every other craft and profession; you might just be working with someone who is going through a learning curve.

          1. I'm so glad you share your experience. I recently tried out a local organic produce delivery service and fortunately there was no contract so after my first delivery I cancelled. I knew going into it that all the fruits and veggies weren't local, but they assured me that most were and all were organic. When you signed up you answered a questionaire and could designate which items you didn't want. For instance, I didn't want kiwi (not local).

            I received my first delivery and for $30 bucks got 5 ears of corn, 5 small green peppers, some bananas, romaine lettuce, 4 potatoes, 2 kiwi and 3 apples. Hardly a value and I had specified I didn't want kiwi AND the apples and kiwi were from New Zealand! What NC has no apples in October? Shipping produce from New Zealand hardly meets my ideas of "organic".

            I had joined this service for the same reasons you mentioned. I then considered joining a CSA in the spring, but I think the Farmers Market is the best way to support my local farmers and feed my family.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lynnlato

              In addition to Farmers Market, hubby and I are also going to expand our vegetable garden next year - everything we successfully grew ourselves (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers) this year taste so much better than what we received from CSA and the store-bought ones - and they are 100% organic too!

              1. re: formosalily

                What does CSA stand for? Be sure to rotate your crops, especially peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes, they can be subjected to nematodes.

                1. re: James Cristinian

                  "What does CSA stand for?" Community Supported Agriculture.

            2. I am always so happy to have my CSA start, and happy to see it end. I seem to peter out the last two weeks every year and stuff sits around in boxes and doesn't get eaten. (Bad! I know. . but we do compost.) I will miss it when i have to start hitting the local supermarket for veggies, though, Ugh.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gridder

                This year they had lots and lots of corn, and they had corn for a very long time. We'd get about eighteen ears of corn each week. For two of us. I got to where I kept about half each week and then walked the rest across the street to my neighbors, a young couple with three little boys. Between that and the regular supply of tomatoes they get from our garden, that was two housefuls of happy, vegetable-eating people.

              2. Hey, I'm considering starting a small business where I would pick up your weekly farm share for you, separate it, wash it, chop it, bag it, label it... and then dump it in your compost heap for you.

                The first week of November is bliss -- I get my fridge back! Seriously. How much fricken kale, jerusalem artichokes, garlic scape and greens of unknown origin can a person take? I've thought about getting a juicer and just pulverizing the whole dang cornucopia down to something I can throw down with a shot of vodka.

                I know, I know. I swear, outwardly, I'm a righteous as the next (Michael) Pollan-spewer. I sincerely love the idea of the CSA movement and am delighted to support my local farms. I enjoy smugly pedaling my 3-speed bike to pick up my share, making foodie chit-chat with the other progressive neurotics, etc. But the food itself?... I hate to say it but there's a reason frozen pizza's so popular.

                5 Replies
                1. re: markp

                  Funny post, markp.

                  I was intrigued by the idea of a CSA, thinking I might actually want to start eating healthy. So we went to the local Korean fruit and veggie mart and bought scads of veggies, and brought them home. And then I proceeded to stare at them.

                  That cured me.

                  The principle is a good one, though. Too bad it doesn't apply to ice cream.

                  1. re: dolores

                    hey dolores, i read somewhere about a place in north carolina (?) that does CSP: community supported pie! i know! can you believe it!

                    i chose no CSA this year because i was living alone . . . i went to the farmers market weekly and bought what i would eat, lovingly choosing every zucchini. i threw out nothing and ate well and cheaply. it was pretty great. CSA is more of a challenge. much as i want it to be fabulous and economical, it doesn't seem to really work out that way. especially if you travel during the summer, you end up missing weeks . . .

                    1. re: pigtails

                      Yes, there was a Community Supported Pie in Durham a couple of years ago.

                      I was a member, and got my choice of either sweet or savory (or both!) every week!

                      Loved it, but the owner/baker has now opened a store and they show up at the market weekly.

                      Miss it, even though I can still buy her goodies weekly.

                  2. re: markp

                    LOL, isn't the anonymity on this board great? I just wonder how much worse I'd be if my husband was also a progressive neurotic, instead of the realist that just burst in the room incredulous that I spent $125 on mail order grass fed beef last week. He did not see the value in the humane-processing fee.

                    1. re: markp

                      You are too funny markp!!!! Never used a CSA, just shop @ my local produce store (Oakland, CA) and try to hit the farmers mkt. every 2 weeks. How much kale indeed? Loved your comment about the juicer and the vodka...are we related? What's your favorite frozen pizza, BTW? Adam

                    2. We just had our first pick up today. Not much in the way of vegetables but lots of salad greens, cooking greens and several types of choys. I'm hoping for some more diversity but I like greens and will find a way to eat more of them. As a power food it doesn't get much better. Lots of good nutrients in those greens. Will do it for one season and see how it goes

                      1. I love our organic CSA. This is the 4th season for us. All the vegetables we get are absolutely delicious! Now I hate that I have to buy produce from the SUPERMARKET over the winter!

                        We do not do the "box" option, however. Our farm has that option too -- but we chose farm pickup instead. It gives us more choices -- we can choose, for example, 2 items out of a group of four, etc. That way we can choose to take the vegetable that we prefer. They also have many pick-your-own crops.

                        The weekly trip to the farm can be a little time consuming in the height of the summer, (SO MUCH to pick) but I love it. Amazing heirloom, cherry, and sauce tomatoes, green beans, edamame, raspberries, herbs, snap beans, even decorative flowers and sunflowers.

                        Yes, at times of the year we do get a lot of lettuce and greens, but that's seasonal eating!

                        1. This was my first year of subscribing to a CSA, too. And it may also be my last. Our vegetables did always look and taste good. But there was a lot of the things we don't have much need for (beets and mesclun being the top two) and not enough of the things we really like (no cauliflower or asparagus). I missed going to the farmers market each week. I wanted to go, to get the veggies that didn't come in the box, but I felt guilty about it because there was a whole fridge full of veggies that needed to be used up. Much as I liked the farmers and the freshness of their produce, I think I'll have to support the farmers that come to the farmers market instead.

                          1. Overall I like mine but I have to admit, their tomatoes and carrots have been a disappointment flavour-wise. I'd also like it if they paired things a little better - it'd be nice if tomatoes and basil came together at least once a season, for example. Or beets and dill. I think the herbs can be harvested all season, right? Too many potatoes this year, we'll be eating those for a while. Wondering why no beautiful rainbow chard this year, and what is the purpose of mizuna, exactly? I was glad when it ended, but did sign up for a once-monthly box for the winter - local-only option, which means stored root veggies and some greenhouse stuff. And I look forward to spring.

                            1. This sounds like the running joke on Everybody Loves Raymond after Ray gave Frank and Marie Fruit of the Month. Marie complained repeatedly about the quantity of fruit every month.