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Camille's Review - CSAs: Eat Local, Eat Fresh

Camille's Review - CSAs: Eat Local, Eat Fresh

This summer I’m part of a CSA. “What’s that?” you ask. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and they are popping up all over Knoxville. Here’s how they work: A local farm signs up a group of people who agree to buy produce all summer long. Many of these farms in the Knoxville area grow their crops according to organic standards, though they haven’t paid the US government to be certified organic. The customer agrees to meet the farmer at a pick up point once every week or two weeks and to pay a certain amount for a box or basket of food. It is a win-win situation all around.

CSA customers receive home-grown produce all summer long, and get to taste the amazing flavor (and reap the stellar health benefits) of fresh garden produce. Clients of CSAs also get to try varieties of produce that can’t be found in stores: heirloom tomatoes, for instance. Many farmers are generous with their produce, so you may find that there is a cost savings as well.

Farmers are guaranteed to have clients all summer long. This helps small farmers stay in business because it spreads the risk around.

CSAs that deliver to your area can be found by googling “Community Supported Agriculture” and adding your town name. You can also go to any Farmer’s Market and strike up a conversation with the farmers. You’ll find that many of them have CSAs. Some of those will deliver baskets or boxes to the Farmer’s Market, while others deliver to outlying areas. 

I received my first box this week from Right by Nature farms, out of New Tazewell, Tennessee. It contained zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, chard and herbs. On the pickup day, they also had pasture-raised eggs and honey for sale. Later this summer we’ll see tomatoes, corn and other mid-summer crops. As the season wanes, we’ll begin to see fall squashes, okra, and root vegetables. There are more benefits to participating in a CSA or going to a Farmer’s Market: You get to know the farmer who grows your food, bringing you one step closer to nature. And you get to participate in the rhythm of the seasons by watching how the produce changes over the summer and into fall. Finally, you’ll probably end up with some vegetables in your basket that you aren’t familiar with. Ask the farmer how to prepare these new vegetables and expand your repertoire of tasty foods that you cook and eat.

Stay tuned: in upcoming articles, I’ll be taking about my CSA produce and sharing recipes about how I prepare the vegetables from my CSA hauls. Tonight I’ll prepare Mediterranean Skillet for dinner, featuring fresh zucchini.

Read more from Camille on her site at Camillewatson.com

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