City Fresh

This week, the 2015 City Fresh season kicks off with a bunch of signup events around the city. It’s the best Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program around. Here’s why I love being a shareholder and working with them, and think you might, too.

I got started because I like good food. I really like to cook, and City Fresh gets you good food at a good price. Everything is fresh and locally-grown, which means tastier veggies when you get them home. It doesn’t matter for every vegetable, but when it does, the difference is huge. Honestly, I don’t taste a significant difference between our onions and the ones I can get in nicer supermarkets nearby, but for some things, it’s night and day. The flavors in leafy greens are much more complex when they’re fresh. Fruits are uniformly better; the best apples and peaches I’ve ever had have been from City Fresh.

There’s also a bunch of things I’d never tried to cook with before they showed up in my City Fresh share. This can be intimidating, but it’s part of the adventure. I’d never heard of kohlrabi, the weird member of the cabbage family that looks vaguely like Sputnik; I’d never seen Romanesco Broccoli, a fractal vegetable which is now my favorite; I didn’t know garlic scapes were edible, and now I want to put them in almost everything. I really enjoy the experimentation that comes with being handed an unfamiliar food.

I love that City Fresh is a non-profit with a social justice mission: they seek to get healthy food into urban food deserts at affordable prices. They offer limited-income pricing, which has been very helpful for me at times. All of the food is sustainably grown, which is important to me.

Also, I usually end up going away for a bit over the summer. Unlike most CSAs, City Fresh doesn’t require you to buy into the whole season to participate. Not paying for food I know I won’t use makes the whole thing a lot more plausible.

It’s also a really fun group. I started volunteering with City Fresh half-way through my second season as a shareholder, and it’s been great. Most of my favorite Cleveland people are City Fresh people. The organization is almost entirely volunteer-run, and it’s a really good way to have a positive impact in your community, while hanging out with like-minded people and playing with your food. Also: we occasionally have a melon toss, which is the highlight of any week.

City Fresh has locations all over the greater Cleveland area, from Oberlin up to Euclid. Find one close to you and sign up!