Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 11): Sweet Summer Savings

This was probably the sweetest box we’ve had all season: peaches, cherry tomatoes, corn…all items loaded with natural sweetness that can be eaten with a minimum of preparation. It makes me really sad that the summer is coming to an end. We always get sad when the farm is down to the last corn of the season, and Labor Day means that point isn’t far away. On the other hand, that means we’re getting closer to apple-picking season, which means cider donuts, which means {drool}…

Here’s how this week’s box came out: (which, by the way, was BRILLIANTLY)


Year 2 – Summer Week 11
Grocery Store Unit Price
(per lb)
Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Tomatoes 1.93 $3.99 $7.70
Sweet Yellow Peppers 1.27 $3.99 $5.08
Arugula (bunch) 1.09 $1.19 $1.30
Peaches 1.03 $2.99 $3.08
Corn (ears) 6.00 $0.60 $3.60
Radishes (bunch) 1.00 $1.99 $1.99
Yellow Squash 0.68 $1.49 $1.01
Cherry Tomatoes (pint) 2.00 $3.99 $7.98
Grocery Store Total Cost $31.75
Year 2 Summer Week 11 Savings (Deficit) $9.75


I was approached by one of my friends who reads this blog, commenting (jokingly) on how I’m encouraging her to bust her budget by buying local. Boxes like the one above certainly show that you can get your fruit/veg via a CSA and save some serious dough. In her case, her attempts to buy organic meat are probably what are causing her to hit her budget so hard. That said, there are meat CSAs (for those who don’t mind buying in quantity) and you can purchase some amounts of organic meat for lower cost through warehouse clubs. Even Whole Foods has sales on organic meats – so there are options. But eating meat will definitely beat up on your budget, even if you’re not buying organic. Going organic will only add to that. As an omnivore, I certainly support the idea of trying to find ways to make buying local and organic work for you, no matter whether you’re buying fruit, veg, meat or any combination thereof.

Definitely explore the options. If nothing else, this whole exercise (year 1 through today in year 2) shows that it isn’t all about spending more to get locally grown produce. If anyone has any meat CSA experience they want to chime in on, please do share!

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 11): End of Summer, but not an end to the boxes

It seems improbable that the summer has already come to an end – wasn’t it just May? Oh well. On the plus side, dd is now in school and thinks it’s brilliant. Even better, I now have a metric ton of sweet peppers to slice and send with her to school in her lunches. When I saw the list for this week’s veggie box contents, I turned to dh and said “WE ARE GETTING THIS BOX”. The thought of getting all those tomatoes and ears of corn just made my mouth water.

The loveliness of this end of summer bounty was filled with such color…and a bit of confusion for dh. While he was happy to see that a bunch of multi-colored radishes made its way into the box, he was confused by the darkest one, until I explained that I’d seen something just like it last week at the grocery store. I’d never seen a black radish before last weekend, and then here we were – presented with one in our veggie box! I’ll probably give it a shot, although I have to say that radishes typically just don’t do it for me. Ah well, you can’t win ’em all, right?

This week’s take:


Adventures in CSA year 2 week 11

Color, color everywhere!


  • Peaches
  • Arugula
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Corn
  • Large Cherry Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Squash


Half the corn already went towards dinner last night, and some of the cherry tomatoes made an EXCELLENT addition to my omelet this morning. Ah, if only I had some mozzarella in the house with which to make an arugula-tomato-mozzarella sandwich…well, that can be sorted out when I go to the grocery store later today.

I don’t have high hopes for the cost comparison, but anything’s possible. The box was fairly heavy as it was laden with so many yummy things, but items priced in bunches don’t typically cost a lot. Also, oddly, the peppers were short – we were supposed to get 2lbs (according to the slip left in the box after packing), but we only got just about 1-1/4lbs. Enh. I don’t think we’d know what to do with 2lbs of sweet peppers anyway. I’ll post how things went on the pricing in a day or so, after I’ve had a chance to toss everything into Excel. Yeah, I’m that kind of geek. But what else would you expect from someone who tracks the value of a veggie box over the course of a season? Honestly.

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 10): Holy savings, Batman!

When I first looked at my friend’s CSA box, I hadn’t expected there to be a ton of savings built in, since there wasn’t a ton in the box. Sure enough, there were 3lbs of heirloom tomatoes, but I hadn’t expected that they alone would be the “cost” of the entire CSA box! Just as a reminder, the program my friend is in works differently than the one I’ve been using; it’s more open-ended, in that you pay for a season and you keep reaping as long as there’s a season and stuff’s still growing. Mine is a week-by-week program, so there’s no up-front commitment. And, as my friend noted, if he picks his own, he gets substantially more than I saw in the “picked for me” box. So there’s that, too. In other words, if you’re interested in getting some serious value, going in on a program like this may be better – assuming you can absorb the up-front payment and don’t want/prefer to buy on a weekly basis.

For my part, having the flexibility of opting out of a given week’s box is a really fabulous thing, since some boxes have more or less of what I want. It’s also nice not having the pressure of trying to find someone else to pick up the veg if I’m not around, Lastly, I like fruit – and there’s no fruit in my friend’s program due to space constraints and such. I realize that some, like Tammy, don’t get fruit in their boxes (and she wishes she did!), but having had it last year…I’m spoiled used to it. I want my fruit, too. The big perk I wish my program had is the one my sister’s CSA (at yet another farm) has…a bin for trading items that you don’t want. It’s like a “leave a veg, take a veg” box. WANT. This would give me a place to put all those extra cukes without making so much tzatziki that we’re drowning in it. But I digress…

In other words, lots of pros on either side, and a few cons on each side (mine’s more expensive than his, but I get flexibility that he doesn’t have, etc.). What this does speak to is the incredible variation in programs in my area.

Here’s how things worked out for my friend’s box – going off a base of $13.89 assumed price per week, based on (approximately) 18 weeks in the $250 season:

Year 2 – Summer Week 10
Grocery Store Unit Price (per lb) Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Heirloom Tomatoes 3.45 $3.99 $13.75
Green Pepper 0.26 $1.49 $0.38
Eggplant 1.09 $1.49 $1.63
Jalapeno Peppers 0.13 $3.99 $0.53
Boston Lettuce (head) 1.00 $2.29 $2.29
Cherry Tomatoes (pint) 1.00 $3.99 $3.99
Grocery Store Total Cost $22.57
Year 2 Summer Week 10 Savings (Deficit) $8.68

If you live in Eastern Mass or Rhode Island, I can definitely say that it’s hard NOT to have access to a decent CSA. So, feel free to explore. If you’re not in this area and you don’t know where to go to get in on one, use the CSA locator on the Local Harvest web site and see what’s in your area. Clearly, it can be worth it. BIG TIME. And if you don’t have a CSA nearby, check your grocery store for signs that say “I’m Local!”. Even our local BJ’s clubs now carry local veg. This may not have the price savings built in, but it will help you get fresher items from local farms, and that’s pretty awesome all by itself.