7 Tips to Make the Most of your CSA Share

Eat Local, Environment, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Kelly Wilson, Local Ingredients

Spring has officially sprung! As you shake off the winter haze, now is the perfect time to start planning thinking about where your food is coming from this summer. Which community farmers market will you attend? Will you plant your own garden? Should you join a CSA? There are so many options for accessing local food!

One of my favorite ways to engage in local food is through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. They are a perfect opportunity to receive fresh, high-quality produce while supporting a local small business and developing a deeper personal connection to your food. CSA programs vary from farm to farm, but almost all are subscription based. CSA members sign up in the spring to receive a weekly subscription (share) of farm fresh fruits and/or vegetables throughout the growing season. Some farms deliver their shares to a central location and many offer pick ups at local farmers markets. Most shares cost, on average, $30-35/week. All farms run their CSA programs a bit differently so be sure to explore their website and give them a call to ensure you’re picking a program that fits your lifestyle and needs. If you’re looking for a CSA in your community, check out this resource.

If you decide to participate in a CSA share, here are some tips for making the most of your membership:

Embrace Adventure

Don’t be afraid to try new things. You might be surprised how much you like a certain vegetable if you try a new cooking technique (i.e. pan sauteed radishes or roasted brussels sprouts).

Keep it Social

Start a weekly dinner club with your friends centered on what is in your CSA share. Leftover produce at the end of the week? Split your CSA share with a friend.

Ask Questions

Wondering what to do with the kohlrabi or napa cabbage? Ask your farmers (they always have the best tips and recipes). Ask your friends. Ask Google. Or reach out TLD’s Dietitians at info@localdifference.org.

Learn Something New

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to use your CSA share and a lot of your produce can be enjoyed raw. However, having some basic knife or cooking skills will help you enjoy your produce even more. Check out these resources:
Knife Skills 101
Setting your Kitchen Up for Success

Make it a Family Affair

Studies show that kids who are exposed to fresh, healthy food at a young age are more likely to choose these healthy foods later in life. Involving kids in cooking and food preparing further enhances their acceptance of new foods. So whip out the plastic mixing bowls and step stool

Store it Right

Tomatoes and eggplant on the counter. Salad greens and herbs in the fridge. If you know how to properly store your fresh produce, you’ll be surprised at how long they’ll last. For proper storage tips, check out this resource.

Plan it Out

Make a weekly meal plan around what will be in your CSA share. Use the more delicate items at the beginning of the week (i.e. head lettuce) and longer storing items (i.e. carrots) for dishes later in the week.

Looking to participate in a CSA? Find your perfect match at these events:

March 24th: Washtenaw CSA Meet + Greet (Ann Arbor)
March 30th: Greater Lansing CSA Fair (East Lansing)
April 20th: CSA Day at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market (Ann Arbor)

Kelly Wilson, RDN is Taste the Local Difference’s Director of Community Partners. She is looking forward to participating in a fruit CSA again this summer and eating plenty of fresh peaches. Contact her at kelly@localdifference.org

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