Community Supported Agriculture: A Conceptual Model of Health Implications

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Community supported agriculture (CSA) is an alternative food marketing and distribution model in which consumers pay a membership fee before the season in return for a weekly share of a farm’s harvest. Since the first two were initiated in the 1980s, the number of farms operating as CSAs in the US has grown to more than 6,000. This paper offers a conceptual model of the health implications and challenges of CSA for individuals, families, communities, and local food systems. CSAs benefit individual health by improving diet; contribute to family health by advancing food skills and encouraging family meals; foster the development of healthy relationships between growers and eaters in communities; and promote sustainability in local food systems by conserving natural resources, improving economic viability of small–scale agriculture, minimizing the need for food processing and long–distance distribution, and improving access to high quality food. Challenges for CSA members include more time to prepare whole foods compared to processed foods, inconvenience compared to one–stop shopping at a supermarket, and prohibitive pricing for limited–resource families. Fully utilizing CSA as a health promotion strategy will require the support of health professionals, policy makers, and private sector industries such as health insurance.




Harmon, Alison H. Community Supported Agriculture: A Conceptual Model of Health Implications. Austin Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences 2014; 2(4): 1024.
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