Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 26 (Final Thoughts)

After my run-in with a pumpkin yesterday (more on that later), I realized I was overdue for a CSA wrap-up post. We received our last share on November 6--no more veggies, but the last of the grass-fed beef and some eggs. One lasting benefit from this whole experience is that we are going to continue buying quality eggs from this farmer. At this point they are being delivered to our front door every Friday morning, which is really nice.

Final share:
  • one dozen farm-fresh eggs
  • four pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • one large grass-fed beef sirloin tip roast

So...with the CSA adventure now concluded, my wrap-up thoughts. I'm sure you've gathered that I'm disappointed with the whole experience. But first, the positives. I was glad to be able to support local farmers who are using sustainable, healthy growing practices. It could not have been much more convenient. And it was fun to experiment with herbs I don't normally use, vegetables I wouldn't ordinarily buy, etc. I loved that we were eating a variety of fresh, locally-grown, organic produce that was in season and optimally nourishing to our bodies. I loved knowing exactly where my beef came from and that it was way healthier than what I get at the store.

I also have a relationship with local, like-minded farmers now, and the potential to get other things I need from them. I already mentioned the eggs, and we will very likely be purchasing chickens from them next spring (which I wouldn't have known about if not for this experience).

My main frustration (as you well know if you've been reading all along) was that we received a whole lot less food than we expected--whether because of a misunderstanding, or because the farmer had a bad year, or both--and so that meant it was very, very expensive organic produce. We got a ton of fresh herbs and peppers, which, while nice, should have been a bonus to the food, not a replacement for the food. I can't exactly serve a side dish of sage, you know?

Much of what we received was also unusually tiny, except in one case. And that leads me to the pumpkin. It just kills me that things we expected to be normal-sized (carrots, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes) were strangely small...and then, the one thing that we would have *wanted* to be small (the pumpkin) was huge. Oh, the irony. (I'll explain in my next post why we wanted a small pumpkin.) And some of the things we would eat, weren't very good quality. The watermelon we got wasn't all that tasty (we were getting better ones at Kroger), and the sugar snap peas we got several times were really bitter.

So all in all...I would not do it again with this farm. I'm pretty sure I could have done better by driving 40 minutes to the Nashville Farmers' Market, even factoring in gas money. Of course, this was lots more convenient, and I also don't know about the growing practices of the farmers downtown. But we did end up with a lot of stuff we didn't particularly like or care to use, whereas at the farmers' market, I can buy what we like best and will eat.

Mostly I wish we could have a garden--not because I enjoy gardening, but because it is a much more cost effective way to get fresh organic produce--and you can choose exactly what to plant. But as long as we live in this location, that's not an option. I'm not sure what we'll do next summer. I still really, really like the idea of voting with my dollars and supporting local, sustainable farming. I don't even mind paying a premium for that kind of food (just not an *excessive* premium). So we may give the CSA concept one more shot (there's a bigger, more established CSA in the area--the one we almost signed up for before we found out about this one), or we may just be deliberate about frequenting farmers' markets and produce stands next summer.

At any rate, thanks for hanging in there with me through this experience...much to the relief of some of you, I am sure, I am all done talking about it now. Except for the pumpkin post (which is only marginally related).


Rebecca said...

We buy our eggs from a farmer in the county east of us. They are wonderful! The yolks stand up so nice when fried + the benefit of knowing where the eggs came from.

We buy our beef and chicken from a market about an 1 1/2 hours away from here. It's Amish, grass-fed, vegetarian...etc. Once again, delicious.

That is discouraging that you didn't have a completely positive experience with this CSA especially as it was your first year.

Have you heard of positive experiences from the more established CSA in your area?

Isn't awesome to know that your food is raised locally? It's so much healthier!

Michelle M. said...

I am glad that you were, at the very least, able to find local eggs. I am considering doing a CSA in 2010. There is a really great one in Lexington, but you have to go into Lexington to pick it up. And I don't go into Lexington more than once a week.

If you decide to go with the other CSA, I hope it goes well.