Looking for CSA Opinions
Hi - I know there are a few threads on this but nothing too recent. I was thinking of switching up my CSA - the produce has been good but I am looking for more variety. Also the one I currently have packages everything in plastic bags which I don't think is very environmentally friendly.
So I was wondering - what CSA do you get? Do you like it? Which size do you get & how many people does it feed. I have noticed the prices swing greatly - from $17 from a small share to over $50 for a small share - any thoughts on the big swing?
Also does anyone know if organic means that the food can't be genetically modified?
I have been with 3 different CSA's. Be-Wise several years ago. I felt like they had a great variety and price was ok (We got a family/large box every other week. I actually split it with a friend. 3 people in each of our families at the time. But pick up location became an issue, so did not renew.) It had some fruit as well as a good variety of veg.
I was with The Gardner for a while. Not as much variety (beets up the wazoo, greens, salad etc...), as they are a small farm in Rainbow. But, location was great as they go to my local farmers market. It costs about $25 a box. Mostly veg but she also includes some eggs from her own pastured chickens and a container of flavored garlic spread or some of her homemade preserves
My last CSA was Suzie's Farm. It is also about $25 for regular sized box. Great selection of veg(kale, beets, sorrel, squash, broccoli, peppers, herbs, etc.. and some strawberries when in season. She has just added bees to her farm and will soon have chickens, as I understand it.
Im taking a break right now for financial reasons. But would definitely go back to The Gardner or Suzie's.
My understanding is that USDA organic means absolutely no GMO.
We have used Be Wise Ranch and Suzie's Farm. We are currently with Suzie's Farm. I like to pick up at the farmer's market, because it is a place I am usually headed to anyways, so I am not going too far out of my way to pick up. I also like Suzie's because of the unusual things I find each week. I never would have bought sorrel at the store, but had it in the box this week and found it is fantastic. The downside of Suzie's as PP suggested, is the absence of fruit. However, not a huge deal if you're already at the market. One benefit of Suzie's is that they have a lower committment than some others
On the other hand, Be Wise Ranch was also great. We did love the oranges and strawberries and miss those. I would probably still be using them, except that their pick up locations were just not quite as convienent since changing jobs. One small problem I had was not with Be Wise, but rather with one of the hosts where I picked up the boxes...one week I just totally forgot to pick up my order. The host called and left me a really nasty message about being irresponsible and disrepectful to the CSA!
Both CSAs have good customer service. Be Wise offered little newsletters with suggestions on what to do with your bounty. Suzies has an active FB site and I know on Monday what I'm getting later that week.
I agonized when I was looking for a CSA last year, and when it finally came down to it, I went with Be Wise. Honestly, it was the best decision we've ever made. I chose Be Wise for a few reasons:
~ Fruit. I liked what Suzie's Farm was all about, except they offer very little fruit--a huge deal breaker for me. With Be Wise, we get oranges almost every week, strawberries and other berries (and cherries!) when in season, avocados often, apples often, peaches/nectarines when in season and either lemons or limes weekly.
~ The pick-up system worked for us. We live in a secure building, so the farms that did door-to-door drop off wouldn't work. I work on weekends so the farms that set up pick-up locations at our closest farmers markets (Little Italy or Hillcrest, which are on Sat and Sun, respectively), weren't going to work for us. With Be Wise, we pick up our box at a nearby location (it's someone's home) and our pick-up time really works for us.
~ I thought it was priced reasonably. $25 for a small box and $30 for a large box. You have the option of weekly or bi-weekly, and you can opt out of a couple weeks if you know you're going to be out of town. I believe most CSAs offer this opt-out as well.
Also, since we've joined, there have been a few things that have kept us with Be Wise:
~ Herbs every week. Love herbs :)
~ The few correspondences I've had with them regarding my account or payment have been pleasant. I haven't had any problems as of yet with my weekly orders or with payment, which has surprised me--I feel like running a CSA and dealing with all of the orders/drop-offs/etc. could get extremely tedious and mixed-up. Hasn't happened yet, knock on wood ;)
~ The quality of the produce is amazing. We've done taste-tests with store-bought produce and our CSA share, and guess which one always wins. It lasts longer as well.
~ The variety is also pretty impressive. I don't think I could tell you what my favorite is--there's just so much and I love it all. Maybe not the mustard greens, actually.
Anyways, there's my novel about my CSA and I'm sticking to it. Good luck with your decision. Hope this has helped. Really, I'm so glad we did this, and I know you will be too, no matter who you choose!