Who’s Who & What’s What—CSA And Meal Delivery Services
Consider this fair warning: Being a locally minded consumer is not a task for the weary. It takes deliberate dedication, forethought and effort.
You do it happily because it is an important contribution to your community, with potentially invaluable benefits to your health. And yet, one of the biggest challenges to maintaining mindful eating habits continues to be sourcing organic, local and fresh ingredients.
That search can also be part of the fun. So, in the adventurous spirit of the New Year, here’s a guide to help with your resolution to eat healthy—a who’s who and what’s what on San Diego CSAs and meal delivery services. Whether you’re a novice slow foodie or ready to graduate to customized meals, you can expect to find a satisfying source for your next slow meal in this guide.
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) harvest subscription programs have been gaining popularity in recent years. Some of us have been proud CSA members for years, while others reading this may be hearing about CSA memberships for the first time. It’s more than a steady supply of fresh, seasonal, local food; it’s also an investment in your favorite local farm.
Carolyn Kates, founder and owner of Your Product Hub, is an unofficial guru of San Diego County farms. She suggests that if you are searching for a farm with shareholder opportunities, shop your local farmers’ markets to find farmers that you connect with. Tour the farms and find one you love. This is what Kates did before becoming a CSA subscriber at nonprofit Wild Willow Farm and Education Center, a San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project.
Kates advises that joining any CSA program can bring its challenges, the biggest of which is “learning what to do with seasonal veggies and how to use them effectively.” In San Diego, most options for CSA boxes include vegetables only, but you can look for memberships that include fruit, eggs, and even CSAs for meat and fish, with costs starting around $25 per week. Signing up with most farms can be done simply online, but the tricky part is picking one. Or, maybe two.
Our Top CSA Picks
BE WISE RANCH—For “spot-on” produce and boxes filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Be Wise is one of the bigger organic farms in San Diego, is highly organized delivers consistent product and has many options for pickup sites throughout San Diego.
FARM FRESH TO YOU—For more diverse offerings with the added convenience of home and office delivery. Second-generation family farm Capay Organic serves as the parent farm for this nontraditional, multi-farm CSA service. Farm Fresh to You procures produce from local partner-farms like Suzie’s Farm, Sundance Organics, and Fairfield Farms, allowing for greater flexibility and customization with your CSA box. The biggest perk is the additional offering of artisanal farm products like olive oil and honey.
JR ORGANICS—For some of the most gorgeous veggies and the best strawberries you’ve ever seen. Located in Escondido, the Rodriguez family farm has been organic since 1986.
SUZIE’S FARM—For harvesting tours, U-pick club and events, and the most amazing romanesco zucchini that tastes like butter, Suzie’s Farm offers a highly interactive CSA experience. Go get your hands dirty.
SAGE MOUNTAIN FARM—For beautiful produce and addons like raw honey, grass-fed ground beef, and watermelon and strawberry jam. Sage Mountain Farm, based in Hemet, offers great variety and pickup locations at many farmers’ markets throughout Southern California.
Fresh Meals Made Super Easy
Now some may find the contents of a CSA box too daunting for their culinary prowess (because they either can’t cook or choose not to cook). In either case, there are a variety of local meal delivery services sourcing ingredients from local producers.
SAVORY MADE SIMPLE—Delivers prepped meal kits straight to your door. Chef Katherine Humphus sources ingredients that are pesticide-, hormone- and GMO-free. The meal kits do need to be cooked, but that’s “simple.” For every six meals that you purchase, Chef Kat donates four meals to Feeding San Diego. That’s simple too.
CALIFORNIA’S TABLE—For delivery of ready-to-eat soups, salads and desserts in reusable glass jars straight to your door. Chef Marguerite Grifka’s food is nourishing, satisfying, comforting and so easy to eat. Make sure to return your jars and lids for a $1 refund.
FLAVOR ID—For the ultimate experience in healthy meal delivery in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles, look for Flavor ID, expected to launch in February 2017. Chef Christine Dionese, an integrative health and food therapy specialist, plans to prepare highly customized meals, applying cross-cultural medicinal herbs with an emphasis on healing.