Midwest

The Good & Bad of our First CSA Box

It’s been 25 weeks of eating local foods.

We received 11 CSA boxes, and now we are officially done. Overall, how did we like our experience? Read more to find out.

 

The Good

There are a number of aspects of the CSA that we really liked.

The location

We were lucky enough to live very close to our pick up location at Green City Market. It was easy to just walk over there on a Saturday morning, as opposed to having to get in the car and drive somewhere.

The variety

One of the reasons we picked this specific CSA is because it included fruit, which was important to me. We received a lot of different produce throughout the season, and it provided us with a lot of new experiences.

The quality

Our fruits and veggies were some of the most flavorful produce we had ever tasted. If you have grown up on commercial supermarket strawberries and then taste an actual strawberry, the different is life-changing.

The meal planning

It was nice to get our box and then plan the next week’s meals all around it. It also helped us make sure we got the most out of the box.

The Bad

There were also aspects of the CSA that irked us a bit.

The lack of flexibility

If you are out of town the weekend of your CSA box, basically you are out of luck. There is no holding of your box somewhere, and you can’t get an extra box another time. Luckily, we were only out of town once and I finagled my cousin into coming to get our box for us and leaving it at our apartment.

The quantity

Our CSA options were a full share (once a week) and a half share (every other week). We consulted with the farm to see what was the right size, explaining that we cooked pretty often. They suggested a full share, but we were still concerned that would be too much, so we chose the half share. Thank goodness we did! The sheer quantity of produce was almost mind-boggling for our tiny kitchen and fridge. Every other week we had to play Tetris to fit everything in.

The pressure

This goes along with the quantity issue. We felt so much pressure to cook and eat our produce before it went bad, or before our next CSA box came. Half the time I would open the fridge and feel like, “OMG we have to eat the kale NOW!”

The waste

Waste also goes along with the quantity and the pressure. If we did not use the produce fast enough or did not figure out what to do with it fast enough, we often ended up with some rotten veggies. We do have compost, so we were able to at least use that, but I would have liked to not waste anything in general.

Overall

I would say it was worth it and we will most likely do it again next year. For now, though, we are going to enjoy being free from the pressure and only purchase produce we know we can eat in a timely manner.

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Starting Tomorrow: Local Food Only

Since making the decision to purchase a CSA share this summer, K and I also decided to take it up a notch.

We figured we were already devoting ourselves to local produce, why not add in locally sourced dairy, meat, and other staples? Since I will have to walk over to the farmers market every week to pick up our share, we might as well grab some eggs and meat too.

How we are defining local:

350 miles from Chicago

local foods map

(Basically, it is about how far a truck can travel in a single day)

What is included:

  • Produce
  • Meat
  • Dairy products & eggs

What is not included:

  • Going out to eat
  • Eating at other people’s homes

Potential Benefits:

  • An increase in vegetable intake
  • A decrease in meat intake
  • A decrease in processed foods
  • A decrease in food packaging, so less waste
  • A decrease in GHG used to transport our food around
  • A decrease in our ¬†waistlines

Potential Costs:

  • $$$$

While our CSA share does not start until June, we are starting when our local farmers market returns outside tomorrow.

HRC telling us how it is on Sesame Street 1993.