Supporting local, sustainable farming operations benefits the environment by maintaining soil integrity and biodiversity as well as reducing carbon emissions. Trealout explains it best: “Supporting local, renewable, sustainable agriculture gives more than it takes from our environment.”
4. Experience the nutritional benefits
Whether they’ve withstood a journey of hundreds of miles, a spraying of pesticide or an injection of colouring to give them their alluring “fresh” appearance, many imported fruits and vegetables are literally toxic, tired imposters. Both organic and non-organic imports are picked unripe and sprayed with ethylene gas to make them artificially ripen. Produce from traditional farming operations that is picked ripe and eaten fresh is the most nutrient-dense and therefore, the most beneficial to our health. A CSA member will reap the nutritional rewards of eating ‘clean’ produce that has been harvested and delivered within 24 hours. And because it was picked so close to delivery, it lasts longer, too.
5. Support the local economy
“Any money circulated into our own economy does wonders to keep the pending recession at bay,” says MacKintosh. By supporting local farming initiatives as opposed to large chain corporations, we are valuing the importance of these hard-working individuals who care more about the preservation of land and health than exploiting the environment for the bottom line.
What to expect from a CSA
Although there are winter CSAs, most run from June to November. Trealout likes to start his CSA program mid- to late June when the succulent strawberries are staining our lips and fingers red. During the summer months, expect a cornucopia of delights, including rhubarb, spring onions, leafy greens, garlic scapes, peas, baby turnips and beets, red currants, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, melons and sweet corn. The fall stocks our pantries with a plethora of storage vegetables. Among this harvest are a variety of squash, pumpkin, potatoes, cabbage, sunchokes and leeks. In addition to produce, both the Culinarium and the KEG are offering local pantry delights to their CSA share members such as maple syrup, honey, fresh ground flour, meats and preserves.
Typically a small share that will generously feed two people is around $25 per week and a large share for four costs about $35. Many CSAs choose a convenient location for pickup while others may deliver right to your door!
How to get involved
CSAs are becoming more and more prevalent. To locate a CSA in your neighbourhood, inquire within your community or explore the Internet. Both Ontario and Quebec offer online directories that will help narrow your search.