Last summer in the New York Times Julia Moskin wrote a thoughtful article entitled: “When Community-Supported Agriculture Is Not What It Seems.” It is worth reading and can be found here for those who want to do exactly that.
Moskin’s basic point was that ‘farm share’ programs have evolved in complex ways from the original simple CSA model. This evolution has blurred the lines of exactly where the food is coming from, whether it is local, and whether local farmers are benefitting from the programs.
Traditional CSAs encapsulate a specific relationship between a farm and its customers. The model originated in the 1980s in the US — earlier in Japan and Europe — and the term adopted in Japan for the system could be translated as ‘food with the farmer’s face on it’. Whether started by a farm or by a group of consumers, a CSA was basically an agreement by the farmer to provide shares of the farm’s products each week during the season, and by each consumer to pay, upfront, the cost of their share.