Today, I shared a list of statements to help people assess their CSA-readiness, and I wanted to share my scores on this assessment if I had taken this test back in 2007. That was the year I joined my first CSA program, Farmers Fresh CSA.
Overall, I would have scored a fairly low 18. Clearly, I was not an ideal candidate, but I made it work. Keep this in mind as you consider joining a CSA program.
My 2007 scores
Score yourself on each statement from 1-5 (very untrue, untrue, neutral, true, very true)
- I am comfortable cooking and enjoy being in the kitchen. 4 – true. My mom loves to cook and, even though I didn’t help much in the kitchen as a kid, seeing her enjoy cooking shaped my attitude about it.
- I am used to cooking a variety of things from scratch. 2 – untrue. I cooked on the weekends, but many meals were based on pre-made mixes and ingredients. Like tuna-noodle casserole with a noodle seasoning mix or a boxed taco kit. These meals were tried-and-true favorites, and I rarely made other meals.
- I have time to spend in the kitchen (at the very least a few hours a week). 5 – very true. I was only working part-time, and my only kid was my 16-year-old step-son who was with us on the weekends.
- I am intrigued by regularly planning meals around a given amount of random, seasonal produce rather than choosing my own ingredients. 5 – very true. Too much choice makes me want to hide and always has. I’d rather “make do” and get on with the living part.
- I love vegetables. 1 – very untrue! My husband thought it was hysterical when I mentioned joining a CSA. I’d been a picky eater all my life, and he’d been trying to get me to eat more vegetables for several years with no success.
- So do the other members of my household. 4 – true. My husband and step-son were far better vegetable-eaters than I was.
- I really want to eat local food. 5 – very true. I loved the idea of CSA programs the first time I read about them in 2006. Because of my dislike of vegetables, I put off joining for a year. It did seem a little silly for me to try. A year later, I loved the idea just as much and started my first season. What the heck, right?
- So do the other members of my household. 2 – untrue. While a fan of vegetables, my husband was not into supporting local farming at the time. He saw a chunk of money wasted on over-priced vegetables that he quite reasonably believed I would never eat.
My 2011 scores
Now I’m fives on all eight statements! Admittedly, I created these statements, and they’re biased towards my experience. Even so, the difference is quite large. In 2007, I would have scored a 3 or lower on statements #2, #5, and #8. Here’s what has changed in four years.
- I’m now used to cooking a variety of things from scratch – only because my CSA membership has given me no choice but to learn and to practice. I was never interested in cooking itself as a hobby. It became a necessary skill, however, and one that I’m proud to have gotten better at over the past few years. I’m no gourmet cook – I’m a hack with a non-stick saucier and a passel of top-notch produce. It takes real skill to make something yummy out of conventional produce. It’s far easier to get good, simple, reliable results with the CSA stuff.
- I love vegetables now because I was motivated to try the ones in my CSA deliveries. They were paid for, expensive, and full of extra goodness and meaning. Once I tried them, I liked them because fresh, local vegetables grown with care simply taste better than their conventional counterparts. (I’m still surprised when I eat conventional vegetables. I start out prepared to love them but am usually disappointed.) The more I ate vegetables, the more my tastes changed, and the more I craved veggies. Now, most days, I’m an accidental vegetarian or very nearly so.
- My husband was not hip to the CSA idea when I first mentioned it. He made good arguments against it, most notably that I hated vegetables. I gave myself a year to get over my CSA yearnings and, when I didn’t, raised the subject again in 2007. His acceptance was grudging at best; he was convinced it was money down the drain. Fast forward four years and Hubby’s a big fan of local and sustainable food. He loves the way we eat now and really loves that I eat so much better than I used to.
To be frank, our first year was tough. I had to cash in some serious chips to continue our second year. Not only did I not know what I was doing that first year, but 2007 brought a hard freeze in late April followed by months of seriously record-breaking drought. That meant summer produce was limited to collards and eggplant. No tomatoes, no fruit. It would have been very easy to give up after that.
But we didn’t give up, and the next season was better, and it keeps getting better even today. As eating this way has become part of our lives, we keep finding new benefits that weren’t apparent that first year or two.
I’ll write more about motivations and long-term benefits soon.