When it comes to food choices, we have so many options in this area that it is sometimes overwhelming. Literally. CSAs. Farmer’s Markets. Organic food stores. Specialty stores. Fresh from the farm at farm stands.
What is the best value? It has taken me years to figure out what works for me. It may not work for you. I do find it a great deal that we have moved the CSA market into one with maximum flexibility.
Community Supported Agriculture used to be “one farm” for the most part. If the farm did well, you ate well. If the season was awful, you didn’t get much. Then, they started banding together to make cooperative ventures. Buying fruit from orchards, or bread from local bakers, or cheeses and dairy.
Enter the flexibility of sizes. Small, medium, large. Half or whole shares.
Since our entrance to buying from CSAs, we have watched them adapt. Now, it is simpler to choose, but harder to manage (trust me, I think our site host is a saint to put up with all the headaches associated with dozens of options).
Enter also really innovative ideas like Friends and Farms. Where you can miss a week. Or change options at a moment’s notice.
Add our multiple farmer’s markets, like the return of Glenwood for us in west county. Where we can round out our shopping and avoid those long lines at the local Giant Food.
After four years of experimenting, I think I found my perfect match. Rotating the choices from Friends and Farms year round. Hitting farm stands like Breezy Willow in the winter. Jenny’s in the summer.
And my anchor. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. We held our breath to see if we met our minimum to keep our site going. We did that and more. Forty one shares. Mini custom. Small. Medium. Large. Fruit. Meat. Chicken. Cheese. Flowers. Herbs. They have made it a smorgasbord of options.
Our first pick up was last Tuesday.
A large share. Most of which has already been consumed, or is planned for the next two days. Asparagus. Grilled. Spinach and chard. Frittata. Beets. Roasted. Onions. Grilled. The Jerusalem artichokes will be roasted tomorrow.
This year I tried a meat share. The heritage pork chops were awesome.
As for cheese. They continue to make me happy. We like to have a smaller dinner, with some wine. I cut off a few slices of complimenting cheese to savor. Instead of dessert.
That mozzarella. Perfect shaved over my Friends and Farms tomatoes from Hummingbird Farms.
This local source for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, before the garden kicks in, is a welcome treat from Friends and Farms. This was my last “small” basket. We are moving to Protein and Dairy. Between the CSA and the garden, I will have enough produce.
I will miss that great bread but the local farmer’s markets will fill that void.
All in all. I found my combination that works. If you live here, with seven farmer’s markets, a dozen farm stands, almost a dozen CSAs, and Friends and Farms, you certainly can eat well on fresher than store bought food.