Letter to the Editor: "La Belle Vie Makes a Mockery of CSAs"

Can CSAs only be offered by farms?

Can CSAs only be offered by farms?

Dear Mecca Bos,

I grew up in a family that valued food and valued farmers. I was a CSA member for 12 years, and have worked for the past 4 seasons on vegetable farms. I think the La Belle Vie CSA and your endorsement of it makes a mockery of the principles of Community Supported Agriculture. A core tenant of CSA is shared risk. Members support the farmers through feast or famine, and as a community, shoulder some of the inherent insecurity that comes along with farming. Where is the shared risk in the LBV CSA? Where is the community?

See also: LBV CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture Boxes Prepared by La Belle Vie

The USDA puts it simply: "CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production." I fail to see how the LBV CSA fits this description.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for local food and the CSA idea, but before you go insulting vegetable farms with their "raggedy bunches of kohlrabi" and "dusty parsnips," I ask that you consider the history of the CSA movement, and the situation for CSA farmers right now.

A good read is Steve McFadden's article from Rodale.

Thank you,

Sam Karns Prairie Farm, Wisconsin

What do you think? What exactly is a CSA? Can models like the La Belle Vie CSA be included in the definition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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