Monday, November 10, 2008

This is it! The CSA is over -long live the CSA!

CSA 2008: The last pickups

So here we are 6 months later. What started out as an attempt to prove that a CSA is indeed worth it, and one would break even joining a CSA, has become something totally different. Break even we did - and then some. All in all we have gotten $1000 more in vegetables than we paid for. Again, this is not a typo: we paid for $860 worth of veggies and received $1800 worth of veggies this season. The tallying up of comparable pricing in local stores - both health food store and big chain supermarket were considered for the figures - was done to the best of my abilities. I counted everything, and made use of the self-pick as much as I was able.

Having been a member in several different CSAs over the years, I would call this season very good, but not spectacular, in the sense that the amount of veggies received was typical. Some crops did not do quite as well as excepted, whereas others really flourished this season, but that is, what I have come to expect from my CSA. The weather early on was a bit erratic. I know that some local farmers had a really hard time with their peaches with losses of about 80% of the crop. So that makes this result even more amazing. Needless to say I already gave my deposit for next year.

The quality and variety of the produce was beyond amazing. To compare these vegetables picked that very morning with anything in the stores, which has been picked green and then was trucked or flown half way across the globe, is really unfair. In some vegetables this is particularly evident. I have had a hard time getting the broccoli home at each pick-up, because it was so delightful eaten raw right there in the car. When you try the same thing with a supermarket broccoli - even an organic one - you feel like you are gnawing on a piece of wood!

A benefit that should be part of the decision to join a CSA is your carbon footprint. Sponsoring all this absurd trucking of vegetables around the globe with your shopping dollars, when the same fruits and vegetables can be grown around where you live seems insane. I know not everybody has the benefit of living in an area where there are many CSAs but looking at the map - they certainly are sprouting up all over the place. And let’s not forget cities grew around agriculturally rich locations, because the food industry has changed into this global beast rather recently. Until about 60 to 80 years ago almost everyone ate the localvore 100 mile diet not even by choice. It was inconceivable to ship apples from Argentina, China or even Washington state to New York state with its network of apple farms. Yet, nowadays nobody seems to have any qualms about buying an apple that has more frequent flyer miles than you do. I think that we are looking at the end of this madness. Change is in the air. How we feed ourselves will be part of that.

Last two pick-ups:

1 pound mustard greens $2.75
2 pounds parsnips $3.50
1 pound kale $1.86

1 bunch turnips $2.50
1 bunch radish $2.50
1 pound carrots $1.79
1 pound onions $1.30
1 ½ pounds jerusalem artichokes $3.75

And the final list:

2 heads cabbage $4.00
1 stalk brussels sprouts $2.00
½ pound collard greens $2.75
1 pound parsnips $1.79
1 pound beets $2.75
6 ears popcorn $3.00
3 ½ pounds potatoes $5.99

Total for the last two pickups: $42.23
Our season’s total so far was: $1836.43

So our final grand total for the 2008 CSA share is: $1878.66.

To wrap it up I paid $855 back in February and I received $1878.66 worth of vegetables and berries from middle of May to beginning of November. Wow!
I will tally things up - to show what the $1878 worth veggies contained, and also I will have an interview with our farmer Jes - to get a behind the scenes look at the CSA. Keep posted!
And I also have to tell you about the winter - CSA...


earthmother said...

Well, as I said before, you've sold me on the CSA. I am actually on a wait list for 2009.

Their season is shorter than yours (18 weeks: late June to late Oct.) and they said to expect from 8 to 15 pounds of produce each week, which I think is far less than what you were picking up. Cost for the whole season is $450. They also offered a 9 week, bi-weekly share for $250 this year. Not sure if they will offer that again.

But, anyway you look at it, I still think it's worth it. And, like you said, there is NOTHING like the taste of just-picked fresh produce.

moni said...

Hi earthmother!
Yeah - it is definitely worth it! My CSA is now offering half shares only - so i actually will have to buy two halves - to make up a full share like I had this year. I have heard from some people on the site who were disappointed withe their CSAs - and i have been a member in some not so well run ones. The best measure is always - how long they have been doing this and if they are willing to give you references from other members. I really hope you will like it. It is best to make your plans for meals and for the rest of your shopping after your pick-up so you know what you have available that week. And if they offer - selfpick - do it! There is nothing like cooking with veggies that you picked yourself. My CSA also offer a workexchange - where you work for 20 hours and you get $100 off your share - not too bad either.