Thursday, March 28, 2013

Farm Fresh Produce: CSA in Los Angeles

Eating healthier is probably a resolution that tops many people's lists. Will and I eat out quite a bit and as much as we enjoy food, sometimes the most delicious and amazing meals are probably also not the healthiest ones. I try to balance our diet with healthier home-cooked meals but I often find myself reaching for the same  tried-and-true items in the produce section that I am comfortable with preparing. I've always wanted to learn to be a more versatile cook so I can prepare whatever produce is the freshest pick that particular week. I thought that a good way to put these pieces together is to join a CSA, community supported agriculture program.

A farm we visited during a trip to San Luis Obispo last fall

CSAs and other similar organic produce delivery programs, focus on providing fresh and quality foods to a local community group of subscribers. Weekly produce boxes contain organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables that are chosen and produced by a local farm. The contents of the box are usually announced one week in advance. Most CSAs offer either home delivery or have weekly dropoff/pickup points in the local surrounding area. It's a fantastic alternative to farmer's markets, which I love, but rarely have time to go to.

Though its been a hotly debated topic whether organic foods are in fact "healthier" than their conventionally produced counterparts, there are still plenty of other good reasons to "go organic". Locally grown organic produce are in-season (so they usually taste better), grown with non-synthetic pesticides, more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and supports local farmers!

A few great resources that I found for CSAs in Los Angeles: 
My top picks so far are: 
South Central Farmer's Cooperative
Will probably try this one out first since they have a pickup location fairly close to us. $15 and up for a mini box and the lowest level of commitment-- you can try a one-time box. This is the most budget option but from the list of previous box contents it seems like they have less variety and don't include as many fruits.

Farm Fresh To You
A good variety and they offer home delivery of their small box on designated days for $25. Quality, but less in quantity than you can probably get at the farmer's market for the same price (according to this review). You can choose the frequency of deliveries and cancel any time.

Good Life Organics
Probably the best variety of fruits and vegetables I've seen. The list on their site looks pretty extensive and it looks like pretty good bang-for-your-buck for a little more money and commitment. There is a one-time $15 membership fee and then it's $30 per half-sized box with home delivery, either weekly or bi-weekly. 
When I think of farm-to-table cooking, my quintessential inspiration is Canelle et Vanille. Aran fills this lovely blog with gorgeous, airy, and light-filled food photography paired with fresh, healthy, and delectable recipes.

See what I mean? I think I just might have to pick her new cook book, to motivate me to follow through with a CSA and to experiment more with seasonal produce!

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