- No More Trips to the grocery store!!
At one point in time, I LOVED going to the grocery store. Seriously. I went every, single Sunday. I walked up and down every single aisle. I marveled at the produce never understanding why certain things were on sale. I knew nothing about eating in season because EVERYTHING was at my fingertips. The only produce I can recall ever waiting on was artichokes and asparagus.
I never thought of what the barcodes meant, or why each fruit was assigned a number and has a little sticker. I even remember telling my husband, years ago, “I don’t buy this whole organic thing. The ingredients are worse for you and the calories are higher. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Oh, wow. Am I eating my words now, or what?
First, I must clarify. The ‘whole organic thing’ I referred to above? That was in reference to BOXED Mac and cheese, sauces, processed frozen items, etc. Honestly, the items my diet consisted of back then…in my other life. With a CSA, I am (almost!!) completely free of my trips to the grocery store. Now, my family can eat what we get from the farmers to fill our plates and fuel our bodies with fruits, meats and veggies raised responsibly and free of chemicals.
During Christmas, we took 2 weeks off from the co-op. The grocery store was so confusing to me! On several occasions, I caught myself asking where the products came from and where, in the world, it was in season…because I knew it could not have come from anywhere close.
- Get a newfound appreciation for the seasons…
I have to say, seasonal eating is the most interesting transitions. I always associated strawberries with my summer birthday. Well, in South TX, strawberries are in season from mid-December to late March so that’s out the window for me now.
I’ve observed that each season’s bounty is compatible with one another. Who doesn’t associate tomatoes with okra or green beans and yellow squash with zucchini? Well, it appears there is a reason for that! Certain vegetables grow side by side in the same environmental conditions and they marry well together for that reason.
It will be until next December until I enjoy another farm fresh strawberry. At first, I thought I would just die!! But, honestly, I eat my fill of each veggie when it’s in season. I happy to see what’s coming next and I rarely crave anything until it’s almost time for season again.
- Eat the way nature intended
When I took a step back, I realized that each seasonal harvest gives our bodies what we need, when we need it.
After a Texas winter of heavy squashes, potatoes, soups and stews along comes January and a new crop of greens. The kales, collards, lettuces and spinaches, all designed to give us a cleansing boost to prepare us for spring. Summer harvest gives us melons to keep us hydrated and the circle starts all over again.
The ability to have any type of food readily available and at our fingertips is a concept to modern man. We can walk into any major grocery store and have access to fruits and veggies of all seasons. The SKU stickers proudly boast which country grew that produce.
4. You help support your local economy
Every year, on New Year’s day, I make a HUGE pot of Black-eyed-pea Gumbo. Unfortunately, I forgot to freeze and save my red and yellow bell peppers during peak season so you can imagine my relief when my local grocery store had both! They were bright, colorful and the barcode started with a ‘9’, indicating organic so I bought them, not thinking about that little sticker until I got home. (That’s another cool thing about fresh food…No stickers to remove and CSA’s don’t charge extra for dirt!)
I started to rinse and remove the sticker and that’s when I noticed…those bright, shiny bell peppers came from Israel.
Israel?!?! My interest was piqued.
How many hands touched those two bell peppers? Who picked them? Having a close relationship with many farmers, I see the impact community support has on their lives. Many of them can pull out of markets, giving them a little time to spend with family. The community that supports the small, local farmer puts dollars directly into the farm rather than corporate giants.
How did my food get from Israel to Cypress, TX? How many gallons of fuel did it take to get into my hands? Being in a co-op or CSA, you can count how many hands have touched your food before it gets into yours. You can calculate how many miles your food travelled to get to your plate. You can know where the seeds were purchased, what mulch was used and what date it was planted. You directly help the farmer you support pay a land note to continue to grow more for you.
That is empowering.
5. You get to Exercise your creativity
I want to be clear….I LOVE meat. To me, nothing is better than a steak and a glass of red wine or a pork chop or chicken breast and a glass of Texas Viognier (please accept my plug for Pedernales inserted here …. that Viognier is amazing.)
But, we all need to eat more veggies, right? When you can make fresh veggies the star of the show, your plate becomes more colorful, more diverse and a lot more fun.
Instead of asking yourself ‘I have chicken in the fridge … what can I do with it?’ think about that broccoli and the fantastic things you can do with it.
Soon you will see veggies can be flavored in even MORE ways than meat. Pinterest boards have boundless information. The CFF2K board is even organized by veggie and has a board customized for each. Check it out and see the amazing things you can do!
So there you have it! The top 5 Reason’s to join your local CSA/ co-op. What are some of your top reasons?