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Why Try Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

Organic. Local. Seasonal. Sustainable.

These are all popular keywords used prolifically by the media today. We know these methods are important, if not the ideal, but how realistic is it that the average American can support them? Well, there is a growing trend (pun intended) in food production and distribution that encompasses and embraces these, and many other, eco-conscious practices.

Imagine getting a large box every week filled with familiar farm favorites such as potatoes, carrots, peppers, onions, and garlic, as well as other less commonly known vegetables such as arugula, mizuna, bok choy, daikon, and kale. No grocery store lines, no weighing and inspecting at the produce stand, and no haggling at the farmer's market. Instead, you can take the guesswork out of produce shopping by joining a CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture

According to LocalHarvest—a website that maintains a nationwide directory of local food sources such as farmers markets and small family farms?CSA "reflects an innovative and resourceful strategy to connect local farmers with local consumers; develop a regional food supply and strong local economy; maintain a sense of community; encourage land stewardship; and honor the knowledge and experience of growers and producers working with small to medium farms."

Depending on the farm that you choose to support, your level of involvement and commitment will vary. In many cases, you will have the option of visiting the farm and seeing firsthand where and how your food is grown. For those of you with children, this experience is invaluable. What better lessons to teach our children than living and eating simply, locally, and cooperatively? CSA is good for you, your family, your health, and your pocketbook.

This is the first in a series of posts on CSA in which I will explore the various aspects of CSA such as finding and choosing a farm in your area, what to expect as a CSA member, and ideas on how to maximize your experience and your harvest.

Dena Smith Givens writes on behalf of NaturallySavvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle.