I have been a member of the Helsing Junction Farm CSA for four years now. In their recent newsletter they were asking a variety of questions mostly related to two topics: should all veggies come from the farm or is it ok if they buy veggies from other farms or even wholesalers, and the quality of the produce. Here are my thoughts.
My motivation for joining a CSA is probably different from most. Industrial agriculture has spent the last half century or so destroying family farms, biodiversity and our health. On a personal level, we have distanced ourselves from the seasons and the reality of food production, further subjecting small farmers to our fickle sense of convenience. Reducing food production to mere consumerism is an insult to farmers and a capitulation the worst attributes of humanity. So for me, joining a CSA was a concrete way to speak out against this, to reconnect myself, directly, with a small farmer, and make all our lives better in the process.
I have always felt a CSA share is an investment in a farm. In exchange I get a box of veggies every week, containing whatever they managed to harvest that week. If that means that I get ears of corn with bugs in them, or if I get few tomatoes because of poor weather, or even if I get potatoes with lots of dirt on them, so be it. To me, these are positive things as I know that veggies are not going to waste because they don’t look pretty enough for Whole Foods shoppers, and I know that the farmers will not suffer due to circumstances beyond their control.
I have heard of some CSAs who buy more produce from other farms or from wholesalers, but I am generally opposed of such things. Extricating myself and the farmer from the vagaries of the “market” is a prime goal for me, so introducing a wholesaler into the relationship would harm that goal and I would be opposed to it. However if several CSAs cooperate (as my CSA cooperates with Provisions CSA), I am all for it.
All in all, I am extremely happy with my CSA: I have gotten some wonderful vegies and I feel good to be supporting local farmers.