The objective of the present study was to explore the influence of participation in community-supported agriculture (CSA) on vegetable exposure, vegetable intake during and after the CSA season, and preference related to locally produced vegetables acquired directly from CSA growers.
Quantitative surveys were administered at three time points in two harvest seasons to four groups of CSA participants: new full-paying, returning full-paying, new subsidized and returning subsidized members. Questionnaires included a vegetable frequency measure and measures of new and changed vegetable preference. Comparisons were made between new and returning CSA members and between those receiving subsidies and full-paying members.
The research was conducted in a rural county in New York, USA.
CSA members who agreed to participate in the study.
Analysis was based on 151 usable questionnaires. CSA participants reported higher intake of eleven different vegetables during the CSA season, with a sustained increase in some winter vegetables. Over half of the respondents reported trying at least one, and up to eleven, new vegetables. Sustained preferences for CSA items were reported.
While those who choose to join a CSA may be more likely to acquire new and expanded vegetable preferences than those who do not, the CSA experience has the potential to enhance vegetable exposure, augment vegetable preference and increase overall vegetable consumption. Dietary patterns encouraged through CSA participation can promote preferences and consumer demand that support local production and seasonal availability. Emphasis on fresh and fresh stored locally produced vegetables is consistent with sustainable community-based food systems.