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Buttoned Up > Everyday Life > Food & Fitness > Why I don’t recommend CSAs for the organizationally challenged

Why I don’t recommend CSAs for the organizationally challenged

posted by Sarah on February 18, 2013 | print article | e-mail to a friend
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  • Colleen

    In our area (Kitchener/Waterloo in Ontario) we have lots of CSA’s but the one I like the best is Bailey’s Local Foods. because like you we tried the traditional boxes for a summer and it just never worked right of us. most of the things I was promised and looked forward to never came (berries, flowers, summer squash) because it was a cold damp summer, so any thing that did grow went to the market and I got Swiss chard and kale, a lot of it. What makes Bailey’s different is their ordering system. they have a web page, once you log in, there are lists of foods available for pick up, with the estamted amount that will be ready and with prices. and you fill in you order for things that you want, and only things that you want and can use. you can still plan your meals since you know what your getting. They also carry local meat, dairy, cheeses (which are addictive), bakery things. and the farmers know how much to bring out, and if they have more then they thought they would they bring it for the spontaneous table. They set up once a week in a church in the summer, once a month in the winter, and it works. I know lots of people who love it, and use it all the time. I don’t yet, since it is more expensive then we can afford, but with my husbands new position, maybe we will start this summer. But a friend of ours runs it and I’ve always wanted to be a regular there.

  • dana

    I agree – I too signed up for these boxes that were wonderful at first but with picky eaters i found even the recipes they sent with the items were too far out there for my family. I do go to local farmers market in the summer and plant a small garden with family favorites. But that too was a bit of a disaster last year as i had so much and didn’t get to use it all – say hello compost! I decided this year i am going to read up on how to best store in season family favorite veggies by canning or blanching and freezing for winter usage. Cross your fingers and hope i get it right this time or there again is more money down the drain. I did want to mention that i am will to try the organic meat farm share this year. they tell you what you will be getting in cuts and portions so it might be worth while. No antibiotics used in any of the animals was what peaked my interest.

  • Leslie Wagner

    I LOVE my CSA and I am by no means a MacGuyver in the kitchen. MY CSA tells me each week what is going to be in the box – before I get it. And there are tons of recipes posted on the CSA’s web site so that I don’t have to go searching for a way to make something that I’ve never tried before. We also have a “share” box at the pick up sites – if you know you aren’t going to eat something or even if you just got too much of something, you can put it into the share box, and of course, take something out that you will use. Please don’t tell people to NOT use CSAs – there are many wonderful ones out there!!

  • Sima

    I thought my CSA experience was, literally, a mixed bag. My son and I loved trying new things–the week we found romanesco broccoli in the box was wonderful!–but I did find myself working very hard to find ways to fill the freezer with my bounty rather than the composter. If I do it again, I will definitely split my share with another family so we can all get the most of it.

  • Maureen

    I have experimented with this also. The way it works best for me is choosing one that has the option of opting out for each week, The price is not based on a share per season. You choose the size basket you want and then pay the price associated with the size. I like the flexibility of knowing I can opt out if my veggie bin gets too full or I am going out of town. BTW, my service delivers year round. Perhaps this would work well for those wanting fresh local produce w/out the commitment.

  • Patti

    Silly question, but what is a CSA? It would be nice if you could also direct your article to those of us who don’t yet know all of these fun acronyms! 🙂

  • SarahButtonedUp

    @8b9e36c8ade120e938ae5aaa672635ed:disqus – not a silly question. But there is a link in the post to the definition of a CSA ( 🙂

  • Lori

    I am with you Sarah – it is a wonderful idea but I had the same problem – having to wash all of those vegetables – where to store them – how to store them – how to cook them – when to cook them -UGH. I have found a solution though!!!!! A local farm has a CSA where you pay up front and then you go to the local farmer’s market, where they are set up, and you SHOP for your weekly vegetables and they take the price off your pre-paid amount. It is great, I get the benefits of locally grown, with out pesticides, produce and I can buy what I want and when I want it.

  • Frank

    We tried using CSA’s twice and both times came to a conclusion like yours: There was too much randomness and waste. In addition there were too many times when we wanted, say, broccoli or fresh corn and had to go out and buy it.

    If anyone wants to cook like a TV cooking show contestant will love the challenge of the randomness — just remember that the tasters only need to ear a forkful or two and they judge most attempts as failures. 😀

    But there’s still the waste of money.:(

  • Hallie

    I am a self-professed disorganized person and my spouse takes 1st prize for picky water of the year. We have purchased a CSA share for the past 2 summers and will definitely do it again this year. It is just the 2 of us and since he is so picky, I eat the majority of it. Our CSA tells us a few days ahead of delivery what we will be receiving in our share, and also provides 4-5 recipes then too. So not only are we getting unbelievably fresh produce but also a chance to explore new foods. I do quite a but of freezing so we have veggies, soups, and sauces in our freezer yet today. It takes some planning but since the produce is so fresh, with proper storage it lasts much longer than anything we would but at the grocery store. My advice? Research your CSA options before signing up so you get one that works for you. Be open to new foods and recipes. Learn simple good processes (freezing, if not canning). And in the words of one of my friends, when all fails, make soup.

  • CJ

    My CSA that I belong to would post a picture on facebook a couple of days early showing what our box would look like and also post a few recipes and tips on how to prepare the veggies for that week. It was great!!!!! There was also a “guide” on the vegetables that were going to be available during the program and the time(spring, early summer,mid,late) which gave me time to look for recipes that would use these vegetable and also a guideline on what to expect and when. I loved this feature that was offered and the extra help and hits from the CSA farmer.

    The CSA also allowed 2 sizes of CSA, we started with the small share just to make sure that there was no problem with using up the vegetables. There was also and added feature if you picked up your box at the farm and they had a trade box, anything that you might not like or not sure of you were able to trade for something else (more carrots for no kale).

    I did a lot of research before I committed to a CSA and chose the one that seemed to fit more of what I was looking for without wasting produce and money.

  • Susan Morris

    I love my CSA! It has led me to learn new ways to prepare produce that I don’t normally buy. We get ours on Saturdays. Thursdays and Fridays are “clean out the fridge and eat leftovers” days. The goal is to have a clean, empty fridge on Saturday mornings. I start menu planning from there. Sometimes we shop for the rest of what we need Saturday afternoon, after we have taken stock of what we have on hand and written our menu. In fact, I would say that having a CSA has forced me to be more consistent with menu planning, and we eat healthier meals as a result.

  • Susan Morris

    I should add that we juice each morning, we make lots of fruit and vegetables smoothies, and we lean toward a mostly plant-based diet that is as raw as possible, so we use LOTS of fresh produce.

  • SarahButtonedUp

    Now THAT is a CSA idea I can get behind!!

  • Amy

    We now have a CSA option where we can order exactly what we want based on what they have available that week. Works much better than the traditional approach, which gave me the same challenges you had.

  • Nan – Silver Magpies

    Such a good point about CSA shares….it’s too easy to end up wasting produce. The local farmers market is better from the meal planning perspective, if you have one that’s local.

    – Nan

  • Laurel

    We do one CSA where we get to pick the exact things we want and just pay for those things every week. We’ve also just signed up for another CSA that’s fruit only. We eat a ton of fruit, so it won’t be a problem for us to use up all of that stuff. 🙂

  • Susan Cowan Morse

    Not sure if you live in the same community that I do, Lori, but we have the same and I prefer this way of buying my local produce. Plus, we have a nearby organic farm that delivers meat/dairy products year-round. I need to sign up for their service!

  • Ava

    CSA’s are not all equal! We made the BIG (expensive) mistake of getting involved with people who did not know what they were doing—very NEW to the business. It was a disaster and a BIG waste of money—we never did get even half of what they promised, so we did not have the problem of too much produce! Just a warning—do your homework—get referrals from their current clients and make sure they have been in the business long enough to know what they are doing and they are actually providing the amount of produce they promise! (we are in central Iowa area)

  • Carolyn K Cornish

    I agree. Too much waste for the organized challenged and those of us who don’t like to cook.

  • Renee M

    Totally the opposite experience! The box planned for me which was so much easier than having to think of meals and then go to the store. I learned that if I kept certain staples on hand I could make anything with minimal trips to the store. I HATE grocery shopping so I shop for staples every 6 weeks or so and then only have to pick up milk weekly. For me, it helped that my box came on Thursday and I usually cook a week’s worth of meals on Sundays. Also, my summer share had a twice monthly delivery and that was perfect for one person. I had a harder time keeping up with the winter share which was weekly. But overall, I’ll never by vegetables any other way again because it’s freedom to just see what I get and I love reading food blogs to try new recipes.

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