A cost analysis of the farm experience

This week, my CSA box had pretty much the same things in it: a dozen eggs, 4 navel oranges, a bunch of green onions,

Is this worth it?

Is this worth it?

 1/2 pound of red leaf lettuce, a bunch of collard greens, a bunch of bok choy, and a handful of young celery.  It’s still too early for the produce I like the best.  I’m tired of bok choy, and most of the greens are ending up in the compost, unfortunately.  It’s time to do a cost analysis.

Gas here is up to $2.00/gallon.  At 3 gallons per trip, that’s $6.00/week.  The cost of the CSA share is $18.00/week, so the total cost per week is $24.00.

At the grocery store, organic lettuce is about $3.30/bag, and I’m getting about 2 bags worth, so that’s $6.60.

A dozen organic eggs are about $2.50.

A bunch of green onions – I’m guessing $1.50.  That’s just a wild guess.

Four organic oranges would probably be $0.50 each, so that’s $2.00.

Organic celery – I have no idea; I’ll guess $2.00.

Bok choy – again I have no idea; I’ll guess $2.00 again.

Same for the collards – $2.00.  That may be a low estimate; but I’m not eating most of the collards now.  I’m also giving away the eggs about every other week because I just can’t use that many eggs.

So, if I was eating everything in the box but buying it at the grocery store, it would cost me $18.60.

So for the cost of food alone, right now I’m only saving $0.60 per week.  When I add in the cost of gas, it’s costing me money to do this.

I’ll have to do another cost analysis when the good stuff starts coming in – tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, etc. – all the summer veggies.

If gas keeps going up, and gets back up to $4.00/gallon, I don’t think it will be cost-effective to do this again.  The farmer’s market is a lot closer, even if it’s not all organic.

We’ll see.

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2 responses to “A cost analysis of the farm experience

  1. Disclaimer: We do not operate a CSA on our farm.

    With that being said, the concept of joining a CSA is not that you save money. It is knowing that you are supporting your local economy and getting great food. Depending on the model of your CSA (community supported agriculture) some have you participate in farm work, others mays ask for marketing or delivery help, and then there is the category that just asks for a paid share. In essence you are sharing the harvest with the farmer and other CSA members. So to do a cost analysis might make good economic sense for your family, but how can you account for knowing you are supporting a local farm vs buying from a grocery store where you can’t account for the hidden costs. (The average carrot travels1838 miles to reach your plate)

    If you buy from your farmers market then that is a whole different picture.

  2. You’re absolutely right; there are a lot of hidden costs in grocery store produce. And I do want to support small farmers. My problem is that although my CSA is the closest one, it’s not so local – it’s 50 miles away, which is a one-hour drive. That’s two hours of completely non-productive time every Saturday afternoon, so that also factors into my thinking. I work full time, so Saturday time is pretty precious to me.

    I buy very little produce at the grocery store any more; I did go to the farmers’ market before I joined the CSA. The farmers’ market is less than two miles away, so using it saves me a lot of time (and I’m not contributing nearly as much car exhaust to the atmosphere).

    Eventually, my plan is to grow as much of my own produce as possible, but I’m a beginning gardener and that’s going to take a while.

    So there are many factors involved – just like everything else in life. 🙂

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