Tony Gentilcore

Because heavy things won't lift themselves

5 Reasons to Join a CSA

CSA

I don’t go out of my way to write a lot about nutrition on this site for a few reasons.  For starters it’s a highly debated topic with so many varying opinions and foods for thought (Ha!  Pun intended), that I just assume avoid any confrontation with the Paleo Bullies for having the gall to tell someone that it’s okay to have a scoop of ice-cream every now and then.

And for the record:  while I definitely lean more towards a “Paleo(ish)” style of eating, I also recognize that Gronk and his kin weren’t crushing broccoli and asparagus back in the day.

So back off Paleo peeps!

Secondly, I have a lot of very smart friends in this industry that I can defer people to if needed. As soon as someone reaches out to me and starts busting out verbiage like Glut-4 receptors, gluconeogenesis, or any number of similar big words, I point them in the direction of people like Brian St. Pierre, Dr. Cassandra Forsythe, Dr. Mike Roussell, Dr. John Berardi, Alan Aragon, and Gandalf.

Because, you know, Gandalf knows everything.

But really I just like to keep things as simple as possible.  At the end of the day it generally comes down to a handful of things:

1. Helping people make better food choices.

2. Helping them get over some behavioral humps which block success.

I mean, it’s not rocket science that crushing a bag of chocolate covered pretzels right before bed isn’t the best choice and that it probably won’t help in one’s fat-loss endeavors. But people do it anyway despite knowing better.

Much of the time it’s about helping people set themselves up for success and come up with specific behavioral strategies that will keep then on task.

For example:  how about not having the bag of chocolate covered pretzels in the house in the first place?

Nonetheless, I don’t want to get too off-track because I actually do have something I want to bring to light today.

Lisa and I joined a CSA!!!!

This is something we’ve both discussed doing together for at least two years now (since we moved in together), but for some reason have been putting it off for whatever reasons.

Whether it was cost, too long of a waiting list, busy schedules, some Star Wars convention that got in the way, what have you, we made excuses.

Which is weird because we’re both very health conscious, and go out of our way to buy a metric shit-ton (ie:  a lot) of greens, organic this, gluten-free that every week when we do our grocery shopping.

Whenever we walk into Whole Foods and Lisa sees something she’s never seen before (OMG rutabaga is on sale Tony!!!!) her eyes immediately widen and she’s like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, sans the creepy Oompa Loompas.

So a few weeks ago we decided to nip things in the bud and join our very first local CSA here in Massachusetts.

For those scratching their heads and wondering what the heck CSA stands for, it’s Community Supported Agriculture.

Essentially the nuts and bolts is this:  it’s a commitment between individuals or families and farmers, where people pay a lump sum into a farm as members at the start of the growing season, and in exchange receive a weekly “share” of the farm’s harvest.

What’s cool about the one Lisa and I joined is that it offers several different options like a vegetable share, egg share, flower share, and fruit share.

We opted for the vegetable share, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I try to snake some eggs and fruit into the mix on occasion.

Additionally, to sweeten the pot our CSA is one that delivers to area Whole Foods markets throughout Mass. and Boston. So all we have to do is show up between “x” hours on a specific day at our local Whole Foods parking lot (which is less than a mile away from our apartment) and pick up our basket of locally grown, fresh, organic, veggies.

So with that I figured I’d give what I feel are the top FIVE reasons to join a CSA.

1.  You Support Local Agriculture

More to the point, you KNOW where you’re food is coming from. While I understand people have great intentions when buying organic at their local supermarket, does it really make any difference if the food is being shipped from half-way across the world in order to make it to your dinner plate?

When you support local agriculture, you’re supporting your LOCAL economy and ensuring that your local farms will prosper and continue to produce delicious, nutrient-dense foods in the long-term.

And this doesn’t even take into consideration the substantial reduction in the carbon footprint when you purchase locally.

2. More Nutrient Dense

How “nutritious” is that head of kale or romaine by the time it’s shipped from 2,000 miles away to your market? This isn’t to say that you’re still not going to get a bevy of nutrients, but I’d garner a guess that buying more local produce is a heckuva lot more nutritious in the long run.

3. It Tastes Better

I think this one goes without saying. Once you’ve biten into a locally grown apple fresh off the tree, you’ll understand that those apples you’ve been eating from Whereeverthef*** taste like sandpaper dipped in lice poop.

4.  You’ll Eat More Seasonal Produce

We’ve grown accustomed to having the opportunity to eat what we want, when we want, all year round. While this is great – hey, I want my bananas year round too – it pigeon holes us into not venturing out and trying new things.

Joining a CSA forces you to try more seasonal foods, and opens up your “foodie” repertoire.

You’ll just die when you try your first roasted parsnip.

5.  It’s Cheaper!?

I know some may balk at the price-tag of some CSAs – and admittedly, some are pretty expensive.  But I’d venture a guess that most will end up saving money in the long run.

It’s not uncommon for Lisa and I to spend roughly $50 per week on produce alone between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Take a peek into your grocery cart and you’d think we were feeding an army of rabbits.

The CSA we joined has 24 total distributions starting in early June running all the way through early December, which is going to significantly reduce our weekly grocery bill.

Holla!

Those are just a handful of course, and certainly don’t represent all the benefits of joining a CSA. I also heard through the grapevine that joining one increases t-levels by like 47%.  Give you take.*

Either way, I’d love to hear everyone else sound off. Do you have your own CSA story to share?  Did you like it?  Hate it? Felt it was a waste of time or the best thing since sliced bread?

Please, share your comments below.

* = For the record: I completely made that up.  It’s more like 49%

Did I just blow your mind? Make (or ruin) your day? Leave a comment, then share this with EVERYBODY.
  • http://www.facebook.com/TheRealMattSupple Matt Supple

    Awesome. Nutrient-packed veggies that taste great + boosting the local economy = WIN.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I feel the same way Matt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bholm83 Brent Holm

    I buy 1/4 cow from a farm here in WA. No CSA but I mos def need to join one. $6/lb for filet mignon vs. $20/lb at whole foods. I’m no mathematics genius but I’m pretty sure that is a buttload less. people think it is crazy to spend $600 and fill my freezer with meat, but then have no problem going to Costco and spending $500 on organic meat (not local, not grass-fed), organic chips, organic coke and triple sprouted organic ezekial bread…and then on the way home stop off and buy a $5 skinny vanilla latte…because you know, it’s gonna help them get all skinny and stuff. peoples confuse me.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Eric bought 1/2 a cow last year and he said it was worth every penny. I’d do it too, but we just don’t have the freezer space here in the city.

  • http://www.artofweightlossblog.com/ Darren Beattie

    This will be my third year doing the whole CSA thing, and I love it. Been trying to convince my better looking half that we should do the winter CSA too but the thought of eating cabbage and apples all winter long is somehow unappealing to her. Be prepared for a lot of leafy greens to start and get acquainted with 100 different ways of cooking kale/chard/collard greens etc…haha It certainly demands a different approach to cooking, check out the cookbook ‘In-Season’. Also I don’t know if they have sea asparagus or fiddle heads in Boston but you should definitely try them if you can…