For good eats, go local

Eating locally grown fruits and vegetables is the healthiest way to eat, period. Not simply because you are consuming lots of fresh produce, but because locally-grown produce holds more nutrients than the produce you typically find in the grocery store.

Fresh, local produce actually has a high nutrient level because it doesn’t spend as much time from harvest to table. The sooner you can eat a fruit or vegetable once it is picked, the better its nutrient profile, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

As an employee or retiree of the City of Kansas City, Missouri, you have your very own access to farm-to-table food—and even get a discount! Read through these frequently-asked questions to learn more about the program and how you can sign up.

What is a CSA? CSA stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture. Fountain of Health has partnered with Just Natural Farms to provide the City of KCMO employees a convenient, economical way to access fresh, local, healthy food. Consumers agree to purchase food throughout the season, which allows farmers to better provide a consistent supply of fresh food directly to customers.

How does it work? Employees sign up through the online store at: www.justnaturalfarms.com. Shares of food are delivered to KCMO worksites once a week. Many items are also available for purchase à la cart and can be picked up at CSA sites. You do not have to be a CSA customer to use the online store.

When does it start? The CSA program begins the week of May 1st. The program will run 26 weeks (end date is the week of October 23rd). Participants will be able to enroll as long as there are shares available.

What are the pickup sites? City Hall, Parks and Recreation Administration, and Eastwood.

What is in a share? Items will vary based on what is in season. A July share might include: 3 large tomatoes, 2 large peppers, 6 ears of sweet corn, 1 jar of salsa, 1 cantaloupe, 4 onions, and 1 dozen eggs.

Why should I join a CSA? A CSA is win-win-win situation. The farmer benefits by having a steady customer base. The City wins because employees who eat more fruits and vegetables are healthier and more productive. Employees win because they have convenient, economical access to fresh, local food. CSA participants have increased their average daily fruit and vegetable by nearly two servings during the last three years of the CSA’s existence. And because the food is local, transportation, packaging, and treatments to the food are minimized, so there is less stress on the environment. With a CSA you have a better connection to the food you are eating and giving to your family. You can even talk to the farmer who grew it!

How do I pay for it? Enroll at Just Natural’s online store: www.justnaturalfarms.com. A full share is $30 a week with a $60 deposit. A half share is $20 a week with a $40 deposit. The City Employee and retiree price includes a $10-per-week savings!

What if there is something I don’t like in the share or don’t know how to prepare? One of the great benefits of a CSA is the opportunity to be introduced to new items. Last year, many folks developed their own systems with colleagues and traded items. Farmer Steve and KCMO Registered Dietician Kathy Barry are also great resources for recipes and food preparation.

Can I cancel if it is not right for me? Yes, you can cancel your subscription at the online store: www.justnaturalfarms.com at any time.

Where does the food come from? The food is grown primarily by Amish families who live just south of Kansas City. They use no conventional chemicals, no GMO, and no gas powered equipment used on the farms.

What if I forget to pick up my food or just can’t make it? Food that is not picked up will be donated to a local food program. If you will be on vacation or just can’t make it, the best option is to have someone pick up for you.

For more information, please email KCMO Wellness Coordinator Jeanine Scrogum or call her at 816-513-1965.