Seems everyone with any interest in local food is buying up community supported agriculture (CSA) shares, locking in weekly (or bi-weekly) market baskets /boxes of fresh, seasonal, and most importantly, local produce, eggs and sometimes meat as well. Last summer my wife and I decided we would try one in 2010. I’ve done research and I have found a couple of them that have pickup locations near my work or in Waukesha where I live. They are all from well-known farms and the sample list of items is impressive. While the overall price may seem steep, calculated out through the Wisconsin growing season the price ranges between 15-30 a week, far less than I’d spend at a grocery store and about in line with what I spend at the Waukesha Farmers’ Market every week. Therein lies my dilemma; how much would I visit the farmers’ market (one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday) if I had a box of herbs, fruits, and vegetables from a CSA?
I am torn. I love the thought of opening up a box each with a bounty of produce not chosen by me. I like the challenge of cooking with things I have never made before and I also like the thought of coming up with new uses for common produce items. I also love going to the farmers’ market and seeing what is fresh or browsing the stands trying to think of something fun to do with the items (check out last summer’s lamb bratwurst concoction for an idea of what I speak of). Would I be robbing myself of that? Would I longingly look at the large fennel bulbs knowing that I had 7 other vegetables at home that I need to use instead? Would some of the CSA box go to waste?
So for those of you who do CSA shares, has it impacted or ruined your farmers’ market experience?