Press-Republican

Cornell Cooperative Extension

May 27, 2013

Farmers Markets vs CSA

This column is all about local food and where to find it, so let’s dust off our baskets and head to the nearest farmers market. 

Each year, Adirondack Harvest spends the better part of a week tracking down all the farmers markets in the North Country.

Updated days, times, locations, market managers, websites and contact information is needed. This year, the list includes 65 markets across 14 counties. That’s up a bit from last year but not a lot.

The market numbers are leveling off, probably due to a couple of factors. One reason is that the farmers are already selling at as many markets as they can handle. The other may be the rise in community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms.

Both farmers markets and CSAs have been gaining in popularity as the local food movement continues to grow, but which one is right for you and your family?

There are pros and cons to each. Farmers markets offer you the convenience of many vendors and an excellent variety of products. In addition to all the delectable edibles, there are usually local crafts, bedding plants and other items for sale.

The market is a great place to hang out with your neighbors and support the local economy. If you have access to at least one, or better, several great farmers markets each week, and you have time to shop and gather everything you need, farmers markets might be your best bet.

You also get to choose only what you like, so you are less likely to throw out unwanted produce. And because you are not paying the farmer ahead of time, it may feel like a less risky option.

That said, many CSAs are functioning more like farmers markets, with free choice of whatever is in season each week. They really listen to what their customers want and expect in their shares.

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Cornell Cooperative Extension