Rx for health: Community supported agriculture

community supported agricultureA new kind of prescription: fresh vegetables

I’ve always loved the quote by Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

I’ve said many times in this blog that I’m disturbed by our healthcare system’s increasing dependence on prescription drugs. It’s not only expensive, but long-term use of drugs causes other problems down the road.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see a local news story about a physician who is rejecting the current trend.

Dr. Kris Knox is prescribing community supported agriculture (CSA) in lieu of or in addition to pharmaceuticals for patients with chronic disease like high blood pressure or diabetes.

This will be her second growing season. Many of her patients have already seen benefits, without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

“Sometimes you end up chasing side effects. This pill has that side effect, that pill has that side effect,” Dr. Knox said.

In addition to produce, patients receive recipes, nutritional information, profiles of the growers and the chance to visit the farm itself.  Dr. Knox’s patients report benefits of being introduced to new foods, an increased awareness of what they are eating on a daily basis, weight loss and increased energy as their eating habits improved.

The good news is you don’t actually need a prescription from a doctor to take advantage of community supported agriculture!

What is community supported agriculture (CSA)?

The concept is simple. Local farmers offer weekly boxes or bags of seasonal fruits and vegetables to people who pay a subscription or membership fee up front at the beginning of the growing season.

For example, in my area, Seattle, there is the local Seattle Tilth CSA. The season runs for 20 weeks, from June to October. A box for 3-5 people costs $35 per week, but only $20 for 1-2 people. They also offer a “work share” price, or 50% off if you volunteer for at least 50 hours during the season.

Local Harvest, the national organization that promotes the growing, selling, buying and eating-locally movement, has a good informational page about CSAs.

They also point out some of the advantages of CSA for both the farmers and the buyers.

The farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow, and they have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.

Families not only get to eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits, but they are exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking (recipes are often included). Visits to the farms are encouraged. What a great way for kids to learn where food really comes from!

The website has a national directory of CSAs, but I found it a bit hard to navigate. I would just Google your city or county along with CSA.

Related post: Find a Farmers’ Market in your area

Have you ever tried community supported agriculture? Please share your experience in the comments!


Frugal Nurse

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