If you’ve decided to get a CSA box – great! We bet you thought that would be the big decision, but it turns out that now you can decide what type of box you’re going to get – and there are new choices for the locally minded consumer who prefers food that hasn’t suffered the pangs of long distance travel. The popularity of the original CSA model has prompted farmers and local food artisans to create offshoots of the traditional CSA box for everything from meat to marmalades. Here’s a guide to some of the latest versions of the CSA that might be available in your area!
Meat CSA’s: These are a good way to get the benefits of high quality, locally raised meat without breaking the bank. While some CSA’s allow you to get a variety of different meats, others specialize in only a single type. Explore the farms in your area to find out which ones offer duck, chicken, pork, bison, and even fish. While the initial price may be considerably higher than an all-vegetable CSA box, each box offers an incredibly low price per pound of fresh, humanely treated meats.
Bay Area Meat CSA (part of Slow Food Berkeley)
Marin Sun Farms Grass-Fed Beef – Bay Area Meat CSA that offers 6- or 12-month memberships in a wide geographic region in Northern California.
Dairy and Milk CSA’s: Is raw milk something you’ve only seen at the farmer’s market once in a while? That may be because it’s illegal to sell raw and unpasteurized milk in many areas. Despite the legal objections, many swear that raw milk is more flavorful, fresher, and easier to digest than typical store-bought milk. The CSA model has been tweaked to create cow or herd shares, in which people pay for a share of the herd to receive the raw milk and other dairy products they produce. Here’s a list of artisan cheese CSA’s organized by location.
Wine CSA: If you’re looking for something to go with your new cheese CSA box, wineries are now offering CSA deliveries of their varietals made from locally-grown grapes. Buy a share and save on a higher-end vintage you might not have discovered otherwise.
Farmstead’s Vinaroon wine (named after the French term for a person who is both a farmer and a winemaker) has expanded its network to 21 states across the country and even to Canada.
Bakery CSA: Bread and bakery goodies are now part of the CSA market, too. Since bakers often rely on grains that are labor intensive, CSA’s offer them the security of knowing that the bread they produce has a committed, pre-paid market. Some regions are now growing local grains and milling them for local bakers, such as Hanley Farms Horsepower Flour and Dunbar Farm in Southern Oregon. And really, what’s better than fresh, hand-crafted loaves of bread?
Helpful links for CSA farms near you:
Need to find a CSA in your area? Use this helpful map to find one that’s close to you. Be sure to contact your local CSA or food artisan if you want them to offer a variety of ways to purchase their products.
Photo credit: istock/HowardOates
Editor’s note: Article updated from the original post