Blog Post by Karla Russek Nasir, MD
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a concept that was developed about 25 years ago and it basically means you buy local produce directly from farmers or local producers. The benefits are that it’s usually cheaper and the nutritional value of the foods in each box is usually pretty high.
My first experience with CSAs was when I moved to the US almost a decade ago. Since then, some of my experiences have been mediocre, but most of them have been great. I love buying local produce, not just for the nutrition benefits, but because I like supporting local farmers and through this, the local economy.
What’s the benefit of buying local produce?
CSA’s and local Farmer’s Markets prioritize taste and nutritional quality over durability. Most varieties of fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets were chosen for yield, growth rate and ability to withstand long-distance transport. Unfortunately, these traits often come at a cost: nutritional quality (1). After harvesting, some produce can continue to ripen and some can’t, but regardless of this, most produce begins to lose its vitamin content soon after it’s picked (2).
I think Farmer’s Markets are great and we religiously visit ours every Sunday, but I have to admit I like the convenience of having some produce delivered to my home every week. There are different types of CSAs and they vary greatly between regions in the US. Some of them sell their produce by weight – you sign up for it and then you get whatever the farm harvested that week. Others CSAs let you choose between a few different fruits and vegetables they have available.
I feel that getting different fruits and vegetables – and having that produce change with the seasons – makes me cook things I wouldn’t otherwise. I mean, I already have the produce, so I might as well use it right?! It’s not always a roaring success, but I like introducing my family to different fruits and veggies in different recipes and seeing their reactions.
There have been times when I’m not sure what to do with some of the produce I get in my CSA box, but I’ve learned that, when in doubt, roast it! Well, maybe not the lettuce… but roasting is a great way to bring out the flavors of many different vegetables. Just mix them with some olive oil, a few drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and throw them in the oven for 15-45 min at 350-400 degrees . (Root vegetables like potatoes and beets need longer than, say, carrots or cauliflower.) And voila! Healthy, tasty snacks or veggie sides for your family table. Try it out today.
- Frith, Kathleen. Is local more nutritious? Harvard school of public health, 2007. http://www.chgeharvard.org/resource/local-more-nutritious
- Lee, SK, Kader, AA. Preharvest and postharvest factors influencing vitamin C content of horticultural crops. Postharvest Biol Technol. 2000; 20: 207–220.
Hi, I’m Karla, I’m an MD from Mexico and will be collaborating in this great project Maya has. I am passionate about healthy eating and now that I am a mom (of triplets!), one of my goals is to teach my children healthy eating habits, so finding Maya and Just Cook For Kids has been amazing. I really hope our experiences and what has worked for us and our families can be of help to you, I hope you enjoy our blog and happy cooking!