What to Expect From Joining a CSA

It just might be the best way to keep your fridge stocked with fresh, seasonal produce.
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Spring is (finally) here, and with it comes a bounty of vegetables and fruit. Clean Food Dirty City founder and Wellness Council member Lily Kunin gets a fresh-from-the-farm bundle of produce every week without going to the store. Here's how.

Spring is the season associated with rebirth and renewal as new ideas begin to percolate beneath the surface. For me, the winter-to-spring transition awakens a lot of my dormant creative energy, sending me back into the kitchen feeling inspired and hungry to create. I feel ready to ditch my cold-weather routine of soups and stews, and to begin experimenting with all of spring’s bountiful produce.

Instead of meal planning in advance, I prefer to visit the farmers' market and shop for whatever is most in season, using those ingredients to develop the rest of my meal. Sometimes this looks like a spring pasta with artichokes and leeks. Other times, it’s a bottomless salad with sprouted grains and tons of fresh herbs.

what is a CSA
Photo: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle

This year, I’ve committed to joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share to support my local farmers. Most communities have some form of CSA initiative that partners with neighboring farms to provide subscribers with high-quality, fresh, organic, or naturally grown produce. Joining a CSA has myriad benefits including accessing seasonal produce at its peak freshness, saving money on weekly grocery hauls, reducing your carbon footprint, and getting to know your neighbors and local farmers.

For me, one of the most exciting parts of a CSA is the thrill of discovering what goods my weekly share will contain. Since the crop share follows the growing seasons, each week I can expect to feast on whichever veggies have survived any unpredictable weather patterns and are ripe for the picking.

Aside from being a great way to support farmers, joining a CSA is an easy and effective way to spring clean your body without doing a traditional cleanse. Our bodies naturally desire different foods with the different seasons, and I’ve found that through listening to my body and shopping with the season, I naturally end up cleaning up my diet and satisfying my cravings.

how to join a csa
Photo: Stocksy/Bonninstudio

When you participate in a CSA, you’re committing to eating with the seasons. Since the produce you receive is at its peak freshness, and often meant to be consumed within the week, it usually requires very little seasoning. A simple salad of the freshest radishes, arugula, and avocado can be elevated with just a dash of Himalayan salt and a drizzle of your favorite olive oil or lemon. This can also mean minimal effort in the kitchen, easy entertaining, and more time to enjoy those balmy spring nights with friends.

If you’re hesitant to join for the full share, many CSAs offer half shares or partner shares. Start here to explore the CSA offerings near you. If you’re still having commitment issues, you can pay a visit to your local farmers' market to get to know the vendors and veg out! No matter where you live, chances are you can experience all the benefits of fresh produce and eating for the season. By the end of spring, your budget and body will thank you.

Plant-based cook and health coach Lily Kunin is the founder of Clean Food Dirty City and the author of the cookbook Good Clean Food. With her trademark less-is-more approach, Kunin is all about making irresistibly clean, wholesome food—using dairy-free and gluten-free ingredients.

What should Lily write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to experts@www.wellandgood.com

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