CSA Member Research: Attitude and Behavior Changes

Some vegetables from Troy Gardens.

What Types of Changes Occur?

After joining CSA, renewing members found that they:

Considered food seasonality more often and, in some cases, changed consumption patterns accordingly.

“I think part of it is learning to eat what is in season, and the farm share really helps that because you don't want to waste it, so you start looking for recipes that are relative to whatever is in the farm share. Even though I thought that was a cool idea before I got the farm share, that farm share sort of pushed me to [act on it]”

Altered their food preparation habits - started to plan their menus, tried new things, ate out less and more selectively, etc.

2005 survey data indicated that 91% of CSA members eat more vegetables and are improving their nutritional health and 83% have increased their knowledge of cooking.

Started eating more fresh vegetables, less meat, and are generally moving towards a healthier diet.

“I think every year we get a little bit healthier. We try new things, and we're more creative, and we're more adventuresome. I think that carries through. [CSA] does feed your habits, for our family, even after the crops.”

Gained new appreciation for farming.

“I remember Claire writing in the newsletter of how she was very disappointed in some of the earlier stages when things were really hot, and dry, and the CSA shares weren't as big as they hoped they would be. We just kind of empathized with that. If I go to the grocery store, and there's no red peppers there, I say, damn it, where are my red peppers?!’ The weather is important to me now. It's not like I just want it to be 75 degrees and sunny. I want there to be rain so that Claire has a good season.”

Note: Most CSA members that did not renew their membership indicated that their attitudes and behavior had not changed at all when they joined CSA.

Why Do Changes in Attitude and Behavior Occur?

Inherent Structure of CSA

Changes in food preparation and eating habits are primarily attributed to the inherent structure of CSA. Members must adjust to getting a pre-selected bundle of produce.

Interactions with the Farm and Farmer

Changes in attitudes and behavior regarding farming and the seasonality of produce are attributed to the structure of CSA and also to members’ exposure to the farm and interactions with the farmer.

Social Structure of CSA Membership Base

Attitude and behavior change are not associated with the social structure of the Troy CSA membership base. There is very little actualized interaction among CSA members. The “sense of community” that participants refer to is a “conceptual community” rather than one based on close relationships and social norms.

Continue to next Results section →