If you’ve been hanging around a health-conscious crowd for any amount of time, or chatting with your healthcare provider about nutrition, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of eating local, seasonal foods. But, putting this advice into practice can be challenging. If you’re anything like me, you’re juggling a lot. If this sounds familiar, I’ve got an idea worth considering: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)!
Today, I’m sharing all about CSAs: what they are & what makes them so beneficial to your health, your community, and the planet.
First, What Is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
It’s really just like it sounds. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a community of people who collectively take part in maintaining a local farm. In return, they receive a portion of the produce that’s grown on the farm every week.
Imagine getting fresh ingredients each week that are grown using the best methods – like sweet corn and tomatoes – to include in your Sunday meal prep! Just imagine having a table full of fresh, local vegetables, which you could easily supplement by growing your own herbs like parsley and basil at home!
And what do customers do in return?
These people pay annual membership fees to help cover the farm’s production costs, and you have to be an active member of the local CSA to receive the fruits of the program (literally!).
Being part of a CSA allows you to have a true farm-to-table experience. Everything you get is local and in season, which has significant benefits.
Is Eating Local Really Beneficial to Your Health?
In short, heck yes! 🙌
Think about this for a moment…
The food you get from your supermarket is usually shipped in from other states (or even other countries). That means they were probably picked off the vine days (potentially weeks) before you actually purchase them at the grocery store.
And by the time they hit your lips, how long has it really been since they were freshly picked?
Here’s the problem…
Fresh food contains more of the essential vitamins & nutrients we need to thrive and be our best healthy selves.
Once a piece of food is picked and stops growing, it begins losing nutrients. So when your food is transported across state lines, its nutritional value has gone down significantly by the time it reaches your supermarket, let alone your home.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Words to live by, but to fully embrace this, you’ll want to try and find fresher food.
Why Should We Eat Seasonally?
It’s all tied together – seasonal, local, fresher.
Eating seasonally is really the same thing as eating locally, because all locally grown foods are in season! But in addition to seasonal/local foods being fresher (and therefore more nutritious), eating this way is actually designed to support your health.
Think about what our ancestors ate before the modern-day supermarket.
It’s pretty tough to imagine, but we didn’t always have every food available to us whenever we wanted them, no matter the season.
People ate what grew during that season, right? And these particular foods provide the precise nutrients our bodies need right then to best support our health. 👏
For example, watermelon and cucumber, which are grown in the summer, contain lots of water which keeps us hydrated. And foods like squash, lentils, and broccoli, which grow in the winter, are best when cooked & can be used in hearty soups to keep us warm!
Mother nature is pretty cool, huh?
Benefits of Joining a Local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Okay, so we know that eating locally & seasonally is extremely nourishing.
BUT the health benefits don’t stop there. I’m a big believer that true health goes beyond physical health. There are other factors, like being part of a community and having a sense of purpose that make CSA’s appealing.
By getting your food from a local CSA:
#1. You feel connected to your food.
You may feel better about knowing where your food comes from when you know the people who help grow your food and can get a firsthand look at their growing processes & harvesting procedures. Knowing that your food is fresh, nutritious, and free of harmful chemicals feels good!
Some CSA’s deliver straight to your door (convenient!), but you may also have the option to pick-up your bundle right on the farm each week. If so, this is a great opportunity to bring the kids along! Build it into your schedule just like you would a trip to the grocery store and consider using it as an educational experience.
#2. You’re supporting a local farm.
Supporting local farms means supporting your community’s economy and the land. Now, if you’re anything like me (and most people I meet) you love the idea of supporting farmers, but there’s no good way to know whether the foods you buy in the grocery store are grown locally or not. Joining a CSA makes it easy!
#3. It’s great for the environment and economical.
When you get your food from a local CSA, you’re cutting out the middleman which saves you some moolah, and you’re reducing the amount of gas or diesel needed to get your food from point A to point B. Plus, it doesn’t require all that plastic packaging!
#4. It gets you involved in your community.
That first letter “C” in CSA stands for Community. 🙌 Perhaps the greatest benefit of a CSA is to encourage relationships between people in the community and their food. It’s the perfect way to meet your neighbors and find other people who are in the same lane as you.
#5. Fresh food just tastes better.
Let’s face it – food that’s good for you just tastes soooo much better! If you’ve ever enjoyed a juicy heirloom tomato or peach on a Sunday morning after a trip to your local farmer’s market, you know what I’m talking about.
Now, what do you say? Do I have you sold on CSAs? 😉
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Your food is hands-down the most important thing you can control when it comes to your health.
We have to eat food every single day – multiple times each day!
Getting involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is one of the best ways to fill your refrigerator with the highest quality (and most nutrient-dense) fruits and veggies every week.
To get started, just Google “local CSAs near me” or try www.localharvest.org. And if you have any questions, feel free to shoot us a message! We’d love to hear from you.