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Best Place To Buy Your Veggies, Grocery Store, Farmers Market Or Maybe From A CSA

Posted By V Ol Blak On November 11, 2010 @ 11:36 am In Gardening Organically,GreenChef Foodie Talk | 7 Comments

Photographer: Tim Sackton

Okay I hope I am not going to bore you with this post. This one is for all the monkies out there who have already drank the “G” kool-aid and are getting deeper into the lifestyle, like me. I know, a post about shopping for food might not be exciting, edgy or include any celeb gossip, but it’s something all of us fleshy’s have to do. Personally, I love Food Shopping Day: I have full on dreams about a lush full fridge, oozing with fresh veggies. So please, your going to have to bear with me as I explore the idea of joining a CSA.

The question in the title is a real one for me. Where is the best place to buy your veggies? I know some of you out there are shaking your heads at me. I guess if your blood runs green, you start by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and then go on down the line, farmers market, maybe a organic local grocery store and last resort the old big box grocery store. But not everyone is born with green blood pumping through their veins, believe me. Most of us grew up thinking Kraft was a food company? My own childhood was filled with things like Coke and Kraft deluxe mac n’ cheese. I remember our high end dinner option was the deluxe Kraft mac n’ cheese vs the powder mac and cheese. Hmmm… what to choose?

Maybe I don’t want onions, cabbage and so on, or maybe I do want things not in the box. Will I end up just composting it?

But now as an adult with all the buying options completely open to me, which option is best? Or maybe the real question is what mix of options is best. I understand the concept of the CSA and love it. For those of you out there who don’t know what a CSA is, here is the quick answer. A CSA is a members club basically and you pay a lump sum in advance to a farmer or a group of farms and in return, they deliver a box of veggies every week to your home or a pick up location for a certain number of weeks. The cost runs about $30 a week and you pay in advance for a certain number of weeks, 4, 8, 12 or even up to 52 weeks. All the boxes are the same. You don’t get to choose what is in the box, since the farmer can only give you what they are growing and what happens to be ripe that week.

The CSA idea of cutting out all the middle men and buying directly from a organic family farm is a great idea. I love the idea of supporting small farms, eating fresh organic foods and enabling the farms to completely focus on growing and not worrying about selling the produce. But I have to be honest, I am a little hesitant about the idea of just receiving whatever the farmer happens to have that week. Maybe I don’t want onions, cabbage and so on, or maybe I do want things not in the box. Will I end up just composting it? Do I really want to go pick a box every week? I know, what a brat! I am just voicing what most of us are thinking. Face it, most of us only know grocery store shopping. Picking out exactly what we feel like making that day or week. Deciding as we shop. Being inspired by what we see on the store shelves. This whole idea of being handed a box of veggies is almost a bizarre concept. Are we communist? Comrade you will eat potato this week! Okay, I am joking, you can still go out shop until you drop.

I am now living out here in Palm Desert which has a very mild winter climate. The low temperature is around 60 degrees. I have my winter garden growing in the side yard and there are several organic grocery stores options within a few miles of my front door. I can even bike straight to them without seeing much traffic at all. With all these options, I don’t really need to buy from a CSA, but that isn’t the point. I am going to give it a shot anyways. Why? Well, maybe its because I actually have been gardening and now I finally understand the real happiness that comes from being out there growing your own food. Maybe deep inside, I wish I was a small farmer (a black hearted, edgy farmer that is) and by joining my local CSA, I will be helping someone else live the farming dream. By simply paying a small farmer directly, in advance, I will be enabling them to focus on loving the plants, loving the land and most of all loving life for as little as $4 dollars a day.

My local CSA is called the Inland Empire CSA and the two farms which provide the veggies are: Sage Mountain Farm (organic spring watered farm) and De Luz Farms and Nursery. De Luz Farm focus on tree farming, which means they provide the Avocados, Grapefruits, Oranges, Pluots, Bananas and so on. While Sage Mountain Farms focus is row crops. They grow, lettuce, basil, potatoes, beets, artichokes, apples, spinach, radishes.. and so on.

Joining a CSA is really an investment. You don’t pay as you go. You pay in advance, making this option not really practical for people out there living check to check. It would take some saving up and planning to start with a full years members, which they call a Pledge. Here are the in advance cost:

My CSA has things called Full Pledges, Half Pledges and Annual Full / Half Pledges. Lots of optional ways to jump in. The basic break down is this:

Full Pledge –  13 weeks X $34.00/week = $442.00 (pre-paid)
Full Pledge –    8 weeks X $36.00/week = $288.00 (pre-paid)
Half Pledge – 13 weeks X $28.00/week = $364.00 (pre-paid)
Half Pledge –   8 weeks X $30.00/week = $240.00 (pre-paid)
Annual Full Pledge –  52 weeks available for $1568 (A $200 discount!)
Annual Half Pledge – 52 weeks available for $1256 (A $200 discount!)

A one month trial period is available for new members:      
A Full Pledge box is available for $136.00 (4 boxes)
A Half Pledge box is available for $112.00 (4 boxes)

While I was writing this, I have convinced myself, I am going to give it a try and will see have to see how it goes. I am think I will go with the trial period box and if I like it, move on up. I do have the garden growing and once it’s ready to start harvesting, I may not need a whole lot of extra veggies. Wish me luck and if you belong to a CSA or are thinking about joining one… leave a comment, share your experiences with the rest of us. Do you love them, hate them, don’t have a clue? Give us all the pro’s and cons. If you have a Kraft Mac n’Cheese membership… well, good luck with that.

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