CSA and farmer’s markets
Gus commented that he and his wife were thinking about doing a CSA, but weren’t sure about how that would fit budget-wise with still going to a farmer’s market. I was going to reply, but it felt like maybe a separate post.
Chris and I love hitting the farmers’ markets here in the cities. There are a lot to choose from – from the tiny one 6 blocks away to the huge ones in the two downtowns. I love wandering the stalls and looking at the beautiful produce, I love the serendipity of seeing a gorgeous piece of produce and finding inspiration for a meal. I love that it’s not just producers, but bakers and cheesemakers and chocolatiers (ooooh, the chocolatiers) and butchers and plant sellers, and artists, and they’re all giving out samples. I don’t love the happens only in the mornings on weekends thing, but Zoe’s not a sleeper-inner, so it’s less of an issue now. But our trips to the farmers’ markets have dramatically dropped since starting a CSA for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason was that our pick up day was on a Tuesday, and the farmers’ markets we go to are on weekends. So Tuesday comes, we get our produce and start planning for using it. If there is still produce we need, we were left either heading to the grocery store to pick something up, or waiting 4 days for the weekend. And on the weekend, we were always a little gunshy about buying much produce at the farmers’ market. Sure, we might need garlic right now, but what if the next delivery comes with 4 heads of garlic? So we’d only buy a small amount rather than stocking up. One of the things that tipped us in favor of the new CSA that we chose is that the pick up is on a Friday, so we can plan our menus to include a weekend farmers’ market trips much more easily. (As an aside, our old CSA moved to Thursday, which would have made life easier, but since I have Fridays off, too, that makes the Friday pick up even better for us).
As for the financial side. We never did a really close accounting. It would be hard to quantify exactly how much we spend per week at a farmers’ market since we both tend to operate on a what-looks-awesome rather than strict money amount basis. But in general, we didn’t spend more on the CSA than we did on farmers’ market purchases, but one thing with the CSA is that it made us try vegetables that we might not have tried. And it was a bit more convenient to just stop by and pick up a box of veggies for those weeks that we really didn’t have time for shopping. But I do think it could fit well in a family’s budget to do a CSA and supplement with produce from a farmers’ market.
The thing that really makes me a big supporter of the CSA model is that I can make sure that I’m investing in a farm. I’m helping them with upfront money to do their farming, and I am sharing in their risk because I firmly believe that small farms are important to our economy and environment, and that they need financial support. While I do have farms that I’m more likely to support at a farmers’ market, if they have a bad year and do not produce as well as they needed to, I’m honestly not likely to just hand them cash to help them cover their losses. But with the CSA, I’m kind of doing that.
The add-ons for some of the farmshares sound pretty cool, too, though we haven’t done any of that. Our farm offers add-ons for strawberries or flowers. One of my coworkers raises chickens for eggs, so we just buy ours from him.
Has anyone else successfully combined CSA with farmers’ market visits? It’s what we’ll be trying this year. Oh, and anyone want to weigh in on “farmers market” vs “farmers’ market” vs “farmers’ market”? I used the latter since the markets all seem to be there for multiple farmers, but it doesn’t look right.
- Posted in: foodstuff