Why Don't More People Buy CSA's?
CSA’s are AMAZING, but why not more popular?
There tends to be two distinct reasons people are not part of a CSA: the large upfront cost and the fact that, quite frankly not many folks know what a CSA is. CSA’s clearly are not as common as going to the grocery store, and that is just the sad reality; our modern food ecosystem prioritizes quantity over quality. We spend more money on transportation, packaging, storing, processing and manufacturing than giving the money directly to farmers, which has left consumers with subpar end food products, and having to pay premiums for high quality real foods. CSA’s are one of the most financially secure means for local farms to operate.
In our previous blog we discussed the basics of a CSA and how they operate, but now its time to talk money! The average produce CSA in the Midwest for 1-2 people for a 5-month growing season (June to October), is about $450. When you read $450 on average, we’re sure you’re thinkin’ yikes that's mucho dinero and might turn people off right away...and that’s ONLY for an individual or small family. What about larger families or vegetarians or large families full of vegetarians? Tha's what many people spend a month on all of their groceries combined!
Well, let’s break down these numbers a little bit and see…Keep in mind these are AVERGES and can vary quite rapidly depending upon a plethora of variables (length of growing season, delivery, size of CSA, discounts offered, etc.) which can ultimately make the cost more or less.
CSA's for Less?
$450 for a box of produce every week from June-October: that’s about 20 weeks or $22.50 per week. That amount is generally affordable to most folks, and arguably more so than what the average person spends weekly on produce for one or two people. Plus, by far the largest advantage is that 99% of folks (if not more) never walk into a grocery store (or farmers market) and buy EXACTLY what they came for. You know how it goes, you go to buy a gallon of milk and check out with a cart full of stuff and spend over $100. Happens to the best of us!
Sure $450 is a lot of money, but that $20.45 actually comes to a whopping $3.21 a DAY. You can’t even buy a bag of carrots at the grocery store for that anymore. Deciding to be a CSA member is really a commitment and a mentality change. You are indeed taking a risk by putting your eggs in one basket with one farm and counting on their yield to be what you want. Fortunately, small farmers REALY want your business, more so than any grocery store and are typically willing to work with folks.
That’s the beauty of buying locally. You can talk to Farmer John and have a conversation on how he grows his kale and if a problem arises, you can actually pick up the phone and speak to him about your concerns, or see him at the farmers market and chat. Totally different concept from going to your “local” grocery store, where you stand in a long customer service line, wait, and usually end up leaving frustrated, because, as you know thousands of other customers are walking through those same doors daily, your kale concern typically isn’t high on their radar.
Sure paying upfront is not what most American’s budget for nor are used to doing, but as the benefits of organic foods, local foods and the dangers of processed foods become more known and researched, limiting your time at the grocery store will actually save you in more ways than just financially. Your body and mind will also thank you.