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CSA, A Cheaper Way To Buy Organic Food

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Organic edible flowers - nasturtiums by Cariporter Organic

As is already known, organic food is a healthier and more nutritious way of eating. It is going back to our roots where real food is eaten, with minimal negative impact on the environment.

However, many individuals are finding it expensive to eat organic food consistently and in the required amounts. This is coupled with the thought that organic food is not very accessible, when in fact it can be cost-effective by joining an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) programme.

Another way to ensure you are not paying more for organic food than you should, is by tracking the prices. You may do so in Canada at http://www.organicpricetracker.ca/.

So what is a CSA?

CSA means community supported agriculture, and it is a collaborative way for individuals to assist farmers in their agricultural pursuits for the farming season, and in return, you receive deliveries of healthy nutritional organic food.

How does a CSA work?

CSA works by you paying in advance for your organic food such as organic vegetables, fruits, spices, etc., and during the farming season, you receive your weekly (or as you determine) organic produce.

For example, in the Cariporter Organic CSA programme, you may pay for 16 weeks delivery of organic food for one person. This 16 weeks is normally from June - September.

During the 16 weeks, you will receive at least six (6) different organic food each week, and as much as thirty two (32) over the course of the 16 weeks. This makes it a lot cheaper than purchasing each type of organic produce separately.

Each weekly delivery may include organic basil, beans, callaloo, carrots, cherries, chives, collard greens, eggplants, garlic scapes, garlic bulbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, melons, onions, parsley, peppers, potatoes, radish, salad mix, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchinis just to highlight a few.

Payments are made in advance (i.e. before the farming season which is usually May - October).


Why do you pay in advance?

Paying in advance ensures the organic farmer knows how much clients he or she will be producing food for, so as to reduce wastage and ensure quality. Advance payments also help the organic farmer to cover some of the expenses involved in organic food production, before he or she is ready to deliver organic food to customers.

So why is organic CSA – community supported agriculture a cheaper way to buy organic food?

Well, as of February 8, 2016 a 283g of certified organic baby spinach imported from the US was sold in a major health food chain for $5.99.

1.208kg of certified gala apples were sold in one of the major health food chains in the world for $10.64.

283g of organic vegetables is good for one person for a couple of days, but will normally serve for no more than one (1) day for a family of five (5). It usually contains only one type of veggies such as baby spinach or lettuce, and some might be diverse such as mixed baby greens.

Most of the store packaged organic vegetables in Canada are imported, which may have reduced nutritional value compared to local produce. Additionally, many of these imported organic vegetables are travelling over very long distances and might have taken many days to arrive at the store. So they have been handled many times and in various ways on route and as such, how healthy they are might be in question, or are these veggies still organic?

Most of these organic vegetables and fruits seem to be imported from the US, Central and South American countries like Mexico and Guatemala respectively.

Organic CSA on the other hand weighs more because it has more. Eg. a single share (container of organic food usually vegetables and/or fruits) that is given to customers normally weighs 750g or more. And for some CSA programs (especially for early birds), it may start as low as $22.50 such as with Cariporter Organic CSA.

Organic CSA always offers a variety, it may include up to 32 or more different crops throughout the growing season. And some organic CSA offer 100% locally grown organic vegetables and fruits such as Cariporter Organic CSA.


                                                                          Supermarket/grocery stores                        Organic

                                                                          Prepackaged                                                  CSA

                                                                          Organic Vegetables                                       Vegetables

            Usual weight                                         172g - 312g                                                      750g – 1,500g


            Approx. price per container                  $5.99                                                                $22.50

            (Single person)

           Cost per unit                                          $0.02 - $0.03                                                    $0.02 - $0.03

           Days of Servings                                   May be Up to 3 days                                        Usually up to 15


           Cost for 15 days of servings             $29.95 (approx.)                                             $22.50

           Vegetables included                              Usually baby spinach or                                  Typically lettuce, 

                                                                                                                                                  collard green,

                                                                         mixed baby greens                                          beans, onions, 

                                                                                                                                                  garlic, leek,


                                                                                                                                                  zucchinis,                                                                                                                                                     ... up to 32 or 

                                                                                                                                                  more crops

           Where grown                                        Normally imported                                           Normally locally 


Benefits of joining an organic CSA

  • You and other consumers are able to have affordable, fresh, local, healthy and nutritional organic food.
  • It is convenient because you may pick up your organic food at a central location, or have it delivered like in the Cariporter Organic CSA program.
  • Joining an organic CSA helps farmers to grow and develop their food enterprises.
  • Being part of an organic CSA helps to build communities and local economies.
  • Subscribing to an organic CSA helps to reduce waste because less packaging is needed.
  • Supporting an organic CSA helps you and other consumers learn about the different food that grows within your province, parish or state.


Commitments within an organic CSA programme

Organic Farmer Commitments

  • To grow a diversity of the highest quality … organic vegetables.
  • To continue to improve on sustainable methods of food production.
  • To provide tips and recipes to customers/shareholders for using the vegetables.
  • To work to understand customers/shareholders needs and respond to feedbacks.”[1]

Customer/Shareholder Commitments

  • To pay the full cost of your share (i.e. the total cost for your weekly organic food) before the season begins.
  • To pick-up your weekly organic food during the scheduled pick-up times, or provide a physical address for deliveries.
  • To support your organic farmer in reducing waste by providing your own container or bag for your organic food.

Where you can find CSAs


Cariporter Organic CSA


CSAs in Ontario 


CSAs in Alberta


CSAs in Manitoba


CSAs in Nova Scotia



International CSA Farm Directory


United States of America (U.S.A.)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) CSA Directory





[1]“CSA info”, Reroot Farm, Reroot.ca http://www.reroot.ca/certified_organic_produce.php