You Are What You Eat: Try a CSA this Spring

High fructose corn syrup.  Pesticides.  Hormones.  Antibiotics.  Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. Did you hear that if you chant "Monsanto" three times in front of a mirror, a giant deformed corn monster will appear at your shoulder?  The food headlines out there are a little overwhelming.  For many years, we've purchased organic versions of the things consumed most often in our home -eggs, dairy, poultry - and try to stick with either organic or locally grown produce (since moving to Louisville, at the wonderful St. Matthews Farmer's Market) as much as possible.  In the last couple of years, we've greatly reduced how much of our shopping cart contents come from the aisles in the middle of the grocery store (look, I'm probably never going to make my own granola bars, but I can just say no to pre-packaged cookies, fruit gummies, and soda 99% of the time).  I'm not not quite ready to grow my own food and I may never be dedicated enough to try The Whole 30 like Sarah did.  But it does seem like I can do more, for myself and my kids.  Spring is right around the corner.  It's time to try a CSA.

A CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is an association of individuals who support local farmers by purchasing a subscription to their harvests.  In return, CSA members receive a weekly share of seasonal fruits and vegetables and recapture a connection to their community.  Not only do CSA members know where their food is coming from and how it was grown and, but they also enrich their plates with food of unparalleled flavor, freshness, and nutrients.

Here in Louisville, we are lucky to enough to be serviced by Grasshoppers, which provides a stable market for more than 75 farms and artisans in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.  Grasshoppers is not a traditional CSA in that it does not actually grow food but it does support local agriculture by marketing and distributing farm food directly to consumers.  Grasshoppers offers a multitude of options:  you can choose different sized shares of produce, various frequencies, and customize your basket with add-ons like eggs, meat, bread, milk, and cheese.  Because of the large and varied base of farmers, Grasshoppers is active year round, with things like home canned vegetables and fruit preserves available in the winter.  There are over a dozen pick-up locations around Louisville but Grasshoppers can set up delivery for a large enough group.  My place of business has enough members that Grasshoppers brings the food right to our office every week (convenience is the key to my heart!).  My very first share contained thyme, 3 varieties of lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, a jar of chow chow, wheat berries, and eggs.  My favorite things about my CSA are that it forces me to try cooking with produce I might not normally buy and its website provides recipe ideas for what food is in season.  I hear this week's delivery will include black beans and I can't wait to try the soup recipe that's already up on the website.

Even if you don't live in Louisville, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.  Please consider supporting your local farmers!