Five a Day With a CSA.

Nothing beats the taste of fresh, local vegetables and what better way to get your 5-7 recommended doses a day than through a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

Although s summer is just around the corner and you’re just planting your garden… These farmers have been hard at work for months and are ready the warm temps to heat up their gardens!. After finishing a salad I made from grocery store produce this week, I couldn’t help but think “I can’t wait for spring and summer fresh produce.”

Our recommendation for all patients (and their family members) is 5-7 vegetables and fruit (or 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables) each day. That said, many will admit to not getting half this amount, regardless of the studies revealing those who ate large amounts of produce had reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Diabetes.  What’s an example of a cup?  Hopefully this visual will help. 

We do believe part of the issue with less veggies and fruits are due to the lack of flavor in the store bought produce.  This CSA model is sustained by the community buying shares of a farm who plants, sows and harvests fresh produce (and many include eggs).The community supporting them (the shareholders) have assigned days for picking up their fresh food.  Although these programs started in Massachusetts in 1985, the original idea came from mothers in Japan in the 1960’s who were worried about land less farmable and the idea of relying on imported foods.

Many know the financial and time burdens farms endure annually, but with this model, the shareholders are helping to cover the farm’s operating expenses before the growing season.  Although the costs range from $300-$650 for partial and full shares, this economic model supports the local farmer, environmentally sustainable food production, decreases the carbon footprint, and most of these farms will use less (if any) pesticides allowing for cheaper organic food for about $14-20/week.  Some farms even have Pick Your Own shares. The CSA model saves money spent at the grocery store for a product from other states (or countries), gains friendships and a new love for food while serving your family life changing nutrients.

When considering a CSA, these questions might help.

  • Will I eat the amount of vegetables for my share?
  • Will I have the time to pick up the vegetables (maybe you and a neighbor can purchase a share and split the cost and rides in half)?
  • Am I willing to accept the unknowns to a growing season (flooding, plant viruses, or poor growth)?
  • Do I have friends or neighbors who will take the excess if your family can’t eat it all?

How can you add more veggies to your day?  Besides a few thrown on your dinner plate these tips allow you to stay creative all day every day and utilize the extra from a CSA.

  • Make a smoothie with ½ fruit, kale, peeled carrots and an avocado with milk, coconut water, unsweetened almond milk (or water).
  • Cut up veggies and put them in BPA free Ziplocs for on the go snacks – dip them in hummus!
  • Have a salad with dark leafy greens, pepper, carrots, tomato, and bok choy.  Add one cup of fresh avocado for healthy fat and increase absorption of carotenoids 200-400%!
  • Put your eggs on spinach instead of an English muffin.
  • Make Kale chips.
  • Make a veggie stir fry or ratatouille over quinoa or brown rice.
  • Make a soup with a bunch of leftover veggies from the freezer.

Thankfully there are many CSAs in neighboring towns.

Although it’s late in the season to sign up for a share at a CSA, if you are interested, many have waiting lists and farmers market locations or farmstand days at their farms.

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