The End of the CSA Saga

July 7, 2008

Okay Faithful Readers, I finally did it! I sat down and took the time this morning to compose an email about the baskets we’ve been getting from the CSA to send to the people running it.

Following is most of the email – I’m not going to repeat all the comments that were included in it that were posted to this blog, except to say to be fair, I put in all the positive comments too. Oh, and here also, I did NOT include anyone’s name.

“I signed up for the CSA baskets because I wanted some excellent fresh produce, and as an experiment to be able to talk from direct experience about CSAs on both my farm & country blog and my health food blog. I was hoping to be able to brag about CSAs and really push them as a way of helping your local farmer and getting great produce.I did, however, take pictures and post them of the 3rd basket. Here are some of the comments… each * asterisk below represents a comment from a different person, so as you can see, there are several people’s opinions represented here:

* comment
* comment.

And that’s the end of my letter. It didn’t take long to receive a reply, and that one has me shaking my head. It was very polite, and among other things, the owner said, I am sorry that you have dissatisfaction with your basket. Fortunately my other customers do not share this dissatisfaction, nor do the restaurants.”

Was I really the only person to ever complain? And was I so far off the mark, and the produce really WAS good?? I mean, that not only other people think it’s great, but so do restaurants?

I posted pictures of some of the baskets I received from ***** Farms on one of my blogs, and gave brief descriptions of what the contents were (types of greens, etc.). I thought you might be interested to read some of the comments from other people, a lot of them also being farmers and/or familiar with CSA. I didn’t put up pictures of all the baskets, especially the first couple. With late delivery, most of the time the greens had turned to slime from being in the bags too long and were inedible. I waited, hoping for better things.

 From me – Perhaps you aren’t aware, but the pods of snow peas are supposed to be “flat and thin with the bulge of the tiny seed barely visible at prime eating stage.” The ones in the basket looked like shelling peas. Once they are that big, they are no longer tender.

I put up pictures again by the 6th basket, along with mentioning
“We get an email each week from these people doing the CSA and they are always sooooooo enthusiastic about what’s in the basket.”
and here a couple of the comments on it:

* comment
* Enthusiasm does not make up for poor quality merchandise. If you’re unhappy, you can BET they have many other unhappy customers, too.

And I put up pictures again of last week’s basket, the 8th, and here are some of the comments on it:

* From someone else who does a sort of CSA
* comment
* comment
* comment
* comment
* I am a consumer as well and am in my own CSA again this year. We had a pretty similar experience the first time we had a CSA. We purchased thru a farm that we didn’t really get any references from and it ended up being not so good. We had to eventually talk to the farmer and let her know how disappointed we were in the share. We felt like, even tho we understood that when engaging in a CSA you take the good and the bad that this was mostly bad. Other farmers in the area were delivering much better items, so we were quite confused as to the problem. We let her know our feelings and that we really didn’t have many good things about the share to pass along to other people. It was hard to do, but we felt we needed to.

The last comment hits the nail on the head… it is very hard to have to give negative feedback. I wanted to be able to give rave reviews about your CSA and recommend it to other people, and later buy half a beef. As it stands, I did not mention the **** farm name on my blogs so you wouldn’t be associated with so much negative feedback from people commenting.

I have included all the positive comments I got as well… the main problem is most of the produce is picked too late. (e.g. Yellow squash is best when small – “Because summer squash develop very rapidly after pollination, they are often picked when they are too large and overmature. They should be harvested when small and tender for best quality.” Once they’re big, the skin gets tough and there are unappetizing large seeds.)

Myself and 3 other local people compared produce at two different Farmer’s Markets and the organic produce in Publix, and the produce there was not only smaller, more tender, fresher… all around better looking than most in the CSA baskets, but if the same items were put together in a basket, they would have been cheaper as well. (Taking the cost of the CSA basket and dividing it by number of weeks it would be delivered)

I cannot afford to continue with this, as too much of my basket’s contents end up feeding the peafowl or dogs here. For instance, though the meat is high quality, the sausage was so hot we couldn’t eat more than a few bites, and my husband enjoys eating hot food like jalapenos. It’s a shame to have to waste so much stuff.

We wish to discontinue our membership in this CSA. Please do not send any more baskets for us. I simply cannot afford to continue throwing away so much money. I included the comments in this letter so you would understand *why* we wished to discontinue, and try to do it in as non-confrontational a way as possible, while letting you know the problems.

No, I know there is better stuff at the Farmer’s Markets around here, and even at Publix So why is everyone else so impressed? What am I missing here? How could a high class restaurant be happy with less than excellent produce? (Okay, they didn’t say *what kind* of restaurant.)

She also said, “I do wish you would have told me much sooner let me know how unhappy or confused you were with the varieties of vegetables/herbs.”

Okay, she’s right and and a bunch of you can say, “I told you so.” I wrote back and apologized for not contacting her sooner, but also added I kept waiting for improvements after the late deliveries of the first few weeks, then figuring the garden would be really gearing up and good stuff forthcoming.

But I wasn’t confused about the varieties of vegetables and herbs. Their emails said what was in the basket, so if they said snow peas for instance, I expected the peas in there to be just that, even though they looked like shelling peas.

I still think CSAs are a very good thing. And evidently a lot of people disagree with me and think even this particular CSA is a good thing. But I think produce from one should look more like the veggies Frugal Mom got from her CSA.

There are good CSAs out there. It’s a fantastic concept, and should be a positive thing for both the farmer and consumer.

We just didn’t pick the right one for us I guess.

Leave a Comment: