As we head into a Thanksgiving unlike any other, it is now more important than ever to support local businesses and incorporate a sense of community into our food. That’s why at Journey Foods, we use AI to help thousands of food businesses save money and create better-packaged products efficiently. CSAs are a simple way to put local, community-driven produce, and more recently, packaged goods, on the table.
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually supportive and cooperative relationship between the producer and the consumer. The consumer pays for a crop “share” in advance, guaranteeing producers a market for their goods. In return, growers commit themselves to supply fresh, quality produce to shareholders on a weekly basis throughout the growing season.
Growth of packaged foods in CSA
CSAs are increasingly creative with new flavors. These foods are produced locally to maximize shelf-life, reduce waste, and allow to have a bigger presence on e-platforms. Popular categories of CSA packaged goods include jellies, salad dressings, and fresh dips. Some of the creations include Blue Sky’s blueberry pomegranate dressing, Frog Hollow Farm apricot pepper jelly, and Farmstead ferment ginger carrot pickle juice.
Why should I participate in a CSA?
There are a number of benefits that food from a CSA can offer for you, your community, and the environment:
- Access to high quality, fresh, nutritious foods – the foods you receive from a CSA are often harvested within days or hours of delivery, meaning produce retains more nutritional value and vitamins, as well as staying fresher longer
- Exposure to new fruits and vegetables and ways of cooking — being part of a CSA is great for adding excitement and variety to your diet. From purple cauliflower to rutabaga to golden beets, local farms will often have produce varieties that you might not have been exposed to otherwise and that are harder to find at a conventional grocery store
- A direct connection to farmers — you can directly ask about their growing practices and make choices to purchase from farmers that align with your values.
- A sense of community — becoming a part of a CSA allows you to participate in a more localized food system and connects you to others in your community. Many farms will also offer the opportunity for their CSA members to participate in on-farm events.
- More sustainable production – CSAs help to cut down on the emissions and plastic packaging that are involved in the supply chains of getting food from farms to the grocery store to your table. Many CSAs also use their networks to inform the public about the cost of food production, processing, packaging, transportation, waste disposal, and recycling.
How do I find a CSA?
If you look up farms near your area, many of them will have information about their CSA program (if they have one) listed on their website. There are also databases online that can help you search for a CSA program near you! Local Harvest, for instance, has a great resource that you can access here and use to look up your zip code.