NASHVILLE - There’s a whole bushel of good reasons to participate in “community supported agriculture,” a business model through which customers purchase a “share” or “half-share” of a farmer’s harvest, often before crops are even planted. The phrase may be awkward, but choosing local, homegrown foods is a national trend, and CSAs are gaining ground.
Paying the farmer before the growing season begins allows the farmer to buy seed, fuel, and other inputs necessary to grow crops for the year. As crops ripen, fresh, local food is already bought and paid for. This direct growing and purchasing relationship gives producers a stable income and the fairest return on their products. That’s a great benefit for the farmers, but the concept benefits CSA members at least as much.
First, locally grown fruits and vegetables have an unbeatable edge in nutritional value and flavor. When a fruit or vegetable is harvested, it immediately begins losing vitamin content. Getting veggies picked from their plants only hours before delivery ensures the consumer gets the best quality possible. CSA memberships can also be cost efficient, with no middleman taking a cut of the profits, and foods cooked at home are also less costly than pre-prepared foods. Those home cooked meals come without the preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings prevalent in processed foods, along with sugars and fats that detract from the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.