How a CSA can fit your lifestyle

February 26, 2020
Hand holding bowl filled with blistered shishito peppers

This post is sponsored by Untiedt's Vegetable Farm, Inc.  I've been an Untiedt's CSA member since their first CSA season in 2011, and I'm excited to be working with them to promote their CSA program.  You can learn more, read their frequently asked questions page, and purchase a family or mini CSA share on Untiedt's website.  As always, all content and opinions are my own.

Maybe you've seen the CSA box that your co-worker picks up every week, or maybe you've noticed flyers advertising CSA membership—and you want to know more.  A CSA (an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture) offers members a chance to support a local farmer in exchange for fresh produce.  At the beginning of the growing season, you purchase a CSA share from a local farmer.  Throughout the growing season (typically weekly) the farmer provides a portion of the harvest to CSA members.  

For example, Untiedt's Vegetable Farm's CSA program lasts 17 weeks, starting in June.  They grow over 50 different fruits and vegetables and include a variety items in each share.  Shares are delivered weekly to over 70 drop sites, including public sites and private workplaces, and are offered in "family" and "mini" sizes.

This all sounds neat—but how will a CSA would fit into your life?  Whether you love to cook, want to eat more vegetables, or are feeding a family of two, here's how CSA membership can work with your lifestyle.

Plate of hummus, pita wedges, purple cauliflower, green pepper slices, and cherry tomatoes

1. If you want to eat more vegetables...

Diet trends come and go, but eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is consistently identified as a healthy habit.  

Getting a box of fresh produce each week is an easy way to incorporate more vegetables into your meals—they're right there, ready for you to enjoy.  I've found that my diet became more vegetable-focused during CSA season out of necessity, since I had to use up the week's allotment of zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots.  Once I got in the habit of eating a lot of vegetables, I appreciated how it made me feel and I'm now in the habit of eating plenty of vegetables year-round.

2. If you like to cook...

The produce in your CSA share comes straight from the farm, which means that it will need to be cleaned and prepared before you can eat it—and if you like to cook, that's the best part.  The variety of produce in each week's share gives me the inspiration to try new recipes, often using vegetables that aren't readily available at the grocery store. 

Then there's the quality: if you're going to spend your time in the kitchen, you want your efforts to be delicious.  Since the produce in your CSA is delivered directly to you without excessive time in transit or on the grocery store shelf, it's picked at the peak of ripeness.  Often, the fruits and vegetables in Untiedt's CSA shares are harvested the same day you receive them.

Plate with tortillas and two poblano pepper halves filled with rice and pico de gallo

3. If you enjoy trying new things...

This will be my tenth year as an Untiedt's CSA member, and each year I get to enjoy produce that's new to me, from unique varieties of heirloom tomatoes and melons to totally new-to-me vegetables like garlic scapes, chard, jicama, and fennel.  If you feel like you're stuck in a rut at the farmer's market, a CSA is great way to expand your palate.

A CSA also offers an opportunity to eat familiar vegetables in different ways.  Certain vegetables tend to make frequent appearances in my CSA share, like carrots.  I can only eat so many raw carrots with ranch dressing, so I've tried some new (and tasty) recipes over the years, like spicy maple roasted carrots and seared carrots with chili and lime.

4. If you're cooking for two...

Eating up an entire box of produce every week might seem intimidating, especially if you're cooking for a small family.  However, you can get a CSA share that's sized to fit your needs.  Untiedt's family share features seven to ten different types of produce each week, and is meant to feed a family of three or four that cooks four to five dinners per week.  The family shares include more variety, with items like jicama, okra, and shishito peppers.

If you have a smaller household, the mini share is sized for you.  Intended to feed two people who cook at home three or four nights per week, the mini share has less quantity and fewer types of produce than a family share.  It's also a good option for larger families who don't cook many meals at home, or for people who have a garden and just want to supplement their harvest.

(Alternatively, since I cook dinner at home five nights a week and eat lots of vegetables for lunches and snacks, I'm getting a family share for my household of two.)

Boxes of multi-colored tomatoes on a gingham tablecloth, St. Paul Farmer's Market

5. If you want to support local agriculture...

By purchasing CSA share, you're supporting a local small business with your food budget—and even better, CSA membership provides farmers with an influx of cash at the beginning of the season when it's most needed.  CSA membership also gives you a unique opportunity to learn more about how your food is grown and connect with your farmer.  For instance, Untiedt's hosts annual behind-the-scenes farm tours for members, and their weekly newsletter keeps members updated with how the crops are progressing and the weather conditions that impact your food.

Ready to add a 2020 CSA share from Untiedt's Vegetable Farm to your life?  Family and mini shares are available on the Untiedt's website (order by phone at 763-658-4672 if you'd like to sign up with a payment plan). 

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Plate of pasta topped with cherry tomatoes and text reading "How a CSA can fit your lifestyle"