The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model is gaining steam across the country as more and more people want to know where their food comes from and want to support local farms. Taking part in a CSA is a great way to Shop With Your Heart. They make it easy to put veggies at the center of your meals, and can be a great way to find higher-welfare animal products if your supermarket doesn’t have a large selection.
How Does a CSA Work?
A CSA is akin to having a membership with a certain farm—you are committing to buy a certain share of the farm’s harvest by paying for your share in full at the beginning of the season. In return, the CSA farm offers members regular deliveries or pick-ups of boxes of food. Some CSAs offer a set box for their members, while others allow members to pick and choose which items they’d like to receive. The majority of CSAs are run by produce farms, but some farms are expanding beyond vegetables, offering members a variety of foods including fruit, meat, dairy, eggs and bread.
Farm Animal Welfare Benefits of a CSA
Whether you ultimately choose a produce CSA or a more varied one that includes animal products, CSAs can be a powerful way to help farm animals.
First, the personal contact with farmers allows you to ask questions about their practices and support them directly if they align with your values. (Not sure what to ask? Make sure you read up on questions to ask farmers about how they raise animals!) Supporting higher-welfare and welfare-certified farmers sends a signal to your grocers that consumers are demanding better for farm animals.
Second, you end up eating a lot more veggies—even ones you’ve never heard of before! Eating more plant-based food spares animals from terrible lives on factory farms and reduces demand for factory-farmed products.
How to Find a CSA
There are a number of helpful resources to find a CSA near you. March and April are when most CSAs solicit signups for summer members, so be sure to act fast!
For a listing of CSAs in your area, visit www.localharvest.org/csa
To find Animal Welfare Approved farms offering CSAs, visit www.animalwelfareapproved.us/advanced-product-search