Not convinced a CSA is for you?

We tend to research all sorts of purchases, from houses to cars to TVs and computers. How much time do we spend looking for our food, the very thing that keeps us alive?

Here are a few things that may help in finding a CSA program for you.

Is it locally grown? This term ‘local’ has a broad definition. It used to mean close to home or work. Now it could be 75 miles or state wide or even regional. The term in my mind was originally used to describe farms that are smaller and you could go visit. Basically we are trying to differentiate between the big commercial growers that are selling product nationally versus the small grower that sells in his hometown or surrounding area.  There are health benefits to eating local. Local food normally has a makeup of certain antibodies that are related to their environment so eating truly local food does support the immune system.

Is the food labeled organic? Lots of people claim to be organic. If they are they will be registered on the Organic website section of the USDA, look their name up and see if they are listed. If they are not there they are not organic. We follow organic practices, not the same as organic. If we develop a problem then we take care of it. Like one farmer explained to me, if your house had termites would you give the house to the termites or kill the termites? We encourage people to buy your food based on the food not the label.

Is the CSA grown by one farm or a co-operative venture? It is hard for one farm to grow enough variety to satisfy most CSA customers, generally speaking there will be at least one crop failure every year, just different crops. “Co-oping” is becoming more the norm today. In our case we have three other growers that help fill the bag. Hurley Farms does the sweet corn for us because that is their specialty. We also get a few odd and ends from them like the little pickles and pickling pack that everyone loved. Hirsh Farms does the fruit: Strawberries, apples, peaches, pears, cider. Sara Bee provides the honey. We cannot do a good job on all those different products so we have these farmers help out.

Who is handling your food? Does it come from the farmer or from someone else for delivery? Coming from the farmer gives you one set of people handling your food. As for a food safety purpose, the fewer times the food changes hands the less chance there is to have an issue. This is not an absolute, just stating the odds. There are some good delivery groups out there that food safety is key for them as well. Food hubs in my opinion right now are just a grocery store on wheels. They are multi sourced from farms and even auction houses. Who has handled it and how far are you from the source of growing, in miles and time?

Does the CSA you chose meet your needs? There are lots of different sizes of programs out there. Are the delivery schedules within your needs and can you work with the farmer? Simple questions but they should be asked.

Lastly, is the CSA program for you? This probably should be the first question! A true CSA program has benefits for both the consumer and farmer. The consumer gets to have a “piece “of the farm. If it does well the box is overflowing and you are canning or freezing something that year. If it is a bad year then the consumer shares in that as well. Some crops may be absent or in short supply. The farmer gets to have the security that a percentage of his crop is sold and hopefully paid for. Both parties benefit from the fact they are working together in the absence of a middleman taking his cut.

This has turned into a longer piece than intended! the short version is check out the CSA that appeals to you, in less than 5 minutes you can have most of the answers you will need .The internet is a great thing to type a name in and see where it goes.  Be realistic and read the offerings. Ohio has a lot to offer but in seasons.  It is hard to get Ohio sweet corn and peaches in May!

A label for everything.

In this day and age we have labels for everything. From the clothes we wear, to the toys our children play with, on the food we eat, but what does it all mean?

Normally a label defines something that is factual to set it apart from similar products or items. For a simple example take the car. In the old days cars had 2 doors, one for the driver and one for the passenger. As cars got more modern  and larger 2 more doors were added. I remember when cars were advertised as a 4 door car. It was a precise description.

Today we have lots of labels on everything. Companies work to show off as many promises as they can on the outside of the box; non-GMO, Organic, Natural, Locally Grown, Gluten Free, Hormone Free, Pesticide Free, Sugar Free and the list goes on and on.


Organic and Natural are two labels that can be certified on a national level. You have to adhere to a set of guidelines, keep records, pay a fee, get inspected, and be subject to spot inspections.  You can read the guidelines for these on the USDA web site.

Organic Labeling:
Natural Labeling:

Yet, as with most government programs in my opinion, there are loopholes in the standards. Certain products are illegal to be used unless they are mixed with something else. If it is not safe to be used by itself then why is it fair to be used in a combination with something else?

Back to the original question, “ What do these labels mean?”

Labels in the food industry have grown to be more about marketing than informing. How do you get someone to buy your product. So how does the consumer choose? Simple answer: Know your farmer! In todays society we spend more time choosing our clothes, cars and electronic gadgets than we spend on choosing what we eat that keeps us alive.

Ask a local farmer how he grows his product. Look at the product on the market stand, or shelf.  Educate yourself on what you want to eat and seek it out. Here in the USA we can choose what we want to feed our families.

From this farmer’s prospective, I suggest locally grown for a two main reasons. The first is that you can see your food growing and the least amount of people have handled it. The second is that foods from a region normally are products of their environment which can help with our immune system which in turn helps to keep us healthier. Beware of the label, know your food!!

What’s hiding in your reusable bag?


We’re always happy to see people come to the market and get their veggies with a reusable bag, (we like it even better when it’s a VanScoy farm reusable blue bag!)- but there is something that you need to know about those bags.

You need to wash them!

Reusable bags are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags for carting your grub home from the farmer’s market or grocery store. You can help prevent bacteria, yeasts and mold from growing on your bags and cross-contaminating your food by washing and storing the bags safely between each use.

There are several different types bags available so check out below find the proper way to wash yours!

Woven or Nonwoven PolypropylenePolypropyleneBag
A form of plastic that can be made from recycled plastic containers. Machine wash (gentle cycle with soap and cold water) or hand wash in soap and water. Line dry.

Nylon or PolyesterNylonBag

A durable, petroleum product. Hand wash in warm water and soap. Turn inside out and line dry.

Bamboo or HempBambooBag

Made of biodegradable, natural fibers. Hand or machine wash (gentle cycle) with mild laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.


Made of biodegradable, natural fiber. Machine wash with hot water and laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.

Insulated BagsInsulatedBag

Insulated polyester fiber and coated thermal film keep foods/drinks cold or hot. Hand wash in warm water and soap or wipe with disinfecting or anti-bacterial wipes, especially along seams. Line Dry.

For more information check out:



See you at the farmers market!

VanScoy Family

Make sure you are still getting your vitamins in the winter!

Winter squash is pretty amazing.

WinterSquash copy

The amazing phytonutrient content of winter squash makes us realize that this food is not just a starchy vegetable. Carotenoids found in winter squash include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Pectin-containing cell wall polysaccharides found in winter squash are important anti-inflammatory nutrients provided by this food, as are its cucurbitacins (triterpene molecules). Winter squash is an excellent source of immune-supportive vitamin A (in its “previtamin” carotenoid forms) and free radical-scavenging vitamin C. It is also a very good source of enzyme-promoting manganese and digestion-promoting dietary fiber. In addition, winter squash is a good source of heart-healthy folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium; and bone-building copper and

vitamin K.