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CSA - is it worth it?

Yes!  It is!
But I am doing this post anyways. 

For me, joining a CSA isn't about cost efficiency.  It's about supporting a  local organic farm that is practicing sustainable agriculture.  It's about knowing where your food comes from, being able to meet the farmer and visit the actual working farm. It's about eating local food that is in season and gets to you fresh off the vine.  So many nutrients are lost when produce is packed and shipped hundreds of miles to your grocery store.

That being said, this post is about cost efficiency.  We spend close to $200 a month on CSA produce.  We get a weekly produce box from Tanaka Farms and a biweekly citrus/fruit/avocado box from Farmer Steve (website soon!).  I also supplement with the South Central Farmer's when needed.

We've been a CSA family for almost 3 years and we love it!  Papa has been asking me to do a price comparison for a while now and although I tell him over and over again it's price comparable (and that it doesn't matter anyways) I thought I'd do an actual test to quiet his mind.  It's not just him though, I am the coordinator for the CSA program at my daughter's school, so this question comes up a lot.  I wanted to be able to say with certainty that yes, it's worth it. 

For this test I am comparing our weekly vegetable/fruit box that we get from Tanaka Farms.  We pay $30 a box...keep in mind that this is a school fundraiser and $5 from each box goes directly back to the school.  If I were to order this same box straight from the farm it would only be $25.  Everything is grown on the farm except the clementines and avocados (they come from another local organic farm that Farmer Tanaka works with) and the apples.  The apples are organic Fuji apples and come from the USA, but are not always necessarily local.  Here's what was in the box this week:

1 small head of cauliflower
1 large bunch of Swiss Chard
1 huge 5 lb cabbage
1 large head of red leaf lettuce
1 box of shelling peas (just over 1 lb)
1 box of strawberrries
4 apples
3 avocados
8 clementines

Total=$30 ($5 goes to school)

So I packed up the kids and went to the local grocery store that has a good selection of organic produce.  No, I did not take the time to drive to 5 seperate stores and find the best prices because a) it takes too much time and gas b) what's in the box is what's "in season" and should be a good price at any store.
I was asked to stop taking pictures of the produce, so I'll share the ones I got before I got "caught"!

Here are my results:

1 small head of cauliflower $2.49 a lb = $4.25
1 large bunch of Swiss Chard $1.99 a bunch (but the chard has had the stalk cut and smaller leaves)
2 cabbages to equal 5 lb $1.29 a lb = $6.45
1 large head of red leaf lettuce $1.99 each
1 box of shelling peas $3.99 a lb (no shelling peas at store, but this is the snap pea price)
1 box of strawberrries $4.99
4 fuji apples $2.49 a lb = $4.50
3 avocados $1.69 each = $5.07
8 clementines $2.99 a lb = $2.99

Total=$36.22 (no $5 going to school)

Hmmm.....looks pretty good to me!  I saved $6.22 plus I donated $5 to my daughter's school and I didn't have to make a trip to the grocery store.  Ha! 

Every once in a while the CSA box isn't quite up to par, or there's something in there that looks like it was picked a day or two early...but that's part of the deal.  Farms rely on the weather and a large host of other issues can come up that could change/ruin whole crops.  I have great respect for these farms and what they do to provide us with good, fresh food for the body and soul.

Don't know where your local CSA program is?  Try searching Local Harvest and join the CSA revolution.

Happy healthy eating!

3 comments:

  1. This is SO informative! I have been thinking about doing this so thank you for the post!
    Thinking about you right now during this exciting time for you. The house looks ready for the little one!

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  2. My husband also pointed out to me once that because we have so many yummy fruits and vegetables in the house all the time I buy less snacks like crackers and such. Our kids are just as happy munching on apples and carrots as they are anything else, so it saves us money on that end as well (in addition to being mighty healthier, of course).

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  3. I totally agree with above poster, our CSA is actually quite expensive, BUT we do not buy ANY packaged snacks and things so we do actually save money in the long run! Also I just mentioned your blog (I think it's such a great little blog!) on my blog, just trying to show readers other amazing bloggy people out there!

    ~Samantha

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