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March 20, 2012 at 6:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Why This Dietitian Joined A Local Farm Share

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

Photo Credit: Holyoke Home

My husband and I took the leap this year and joined a CSA (community supported agriculture). Each week I make the trip over to meet the farm truck where I pick up our share of the delicious and nutritious springtime crops from Visser Farms. As my new year’s resolution was to try at least one brand new recipe every month, I figured that the CSA would be the perfect source of inspiration.

Now, before I share more about our experience, let’s talk about what a CSA is first. By joining a CSA you are able to support the farmers trying to make a living in your own community while enjoying the health benefits of local, seasonal food.

Local Harvest, the ultimate source for information on local food, summarized the benefits a CSA brings to both farmer and consumer to beautifully for me to recreate. So, here you are in the words of Local Harvest:

Advantages for Farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for Consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Surprisingly, the farm share experience has been as much about fresh, local food as socialization, quite similar to the camaraderie you may find at your local farmer’s market or at pick-up night for the local food cooperative (West Michigan CoOp in our case).  I look forward to the day each week that I am able to talk to the people growing our food, ask questions about how it was grown (or raised if you were to partake in the free-range egg share), and share cooking tips and recipes with both farmers and fellow CSA members at the pick-up.

I bring home our reusable bags chock-full of farm fresh fare and begin the weekly adventure of building a meal plan based on our allotment. While many may doubt the produce options Michigan has to offer in March, West Michigan truly brings a multitude of options to the (kitchen) table. Already we have been greeted with kohlrabi, leafy greens, turnips, celery root, beets, apples (yes, perhaps from last season but still ah-mAz-ing), carrots, parsnips, red onions, potatoes, and rutabagas. YUM!

As you can imagine, I have had to get creative in the kitchen. From Asian slaw from kohlrabi to pretty-in-pink quinoa with beets, my husband and I have been dining on some incredible dishes – albeit  a couple of misses among the hits. Stay tuned for some delicious recipes coming up in this Dietitian’s Dish.

 Curious to learn more about what a CSA actually is? Click here.

Interested in joining a CSA next season? Click here.

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