6 Tips to Use Your CSA Share for Weight Management

The foundation of every weight management program includes making smart decisions about the food that you eat.

The simple steps begin with incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into daily meals.

This means regular trips to the grocery store, the local farmers market, and shares through your local your community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm.

A CSA is a model in which a local farm accepts subscriptions at the beginning of the growing season, and provides shares of fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season. They work on providing quality foods and fostering as strong relationship between producers and consumers.

How can you use a CSA share to help with your weight management? 
  1. Know that not all of your produce will come from your local CSA. Some items are simply not native to the region you live. Farms are also subject to the whims of the weather, such as drought or excessive rain.
  2. Know what is typically in season in your area. CSA farms will generally let you know when to expect certain items.
  3. Explore creative recipes and maximize your nutrition.
  4. Talk to your farm about quantities. You may want extra portions for canning, drying, freezing, and future meal planning.
  5. Find out if your farm offers extras like eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products.  
  6. Investigate if your CSA has organic options available. USDA 100% Certified Organic produce is also non-genetically modified (non-GMO), and often grown without harmful pesticides.  
Let your local Metabolic Medical Center help you create an individualized weight management plan, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables from a local CSA in your area:

Columbia Area:
          • Gruber Family CSA
          • Fair Acres Homestead
          • City Roots

Beaufort/Bluffton Area:
          • Pinckney’s Produce
          • Rest Park Farm

Greater Charleston Area:
          • Ambrose Family Farm
          • Legare Farms
          • Compost in My Shoe
          • Sol Haven Farm
          • Freeman Farms Produce
          • Thackeray Farms
          • Rosebank Farms

Murrell’s Inlet/Myrtle Beach Area:
          • Sugarcoat Farms
          • Millgrove Farms
          • Haiden’s Harvest
          • Dickson’s Organics

Stickers on Your Produce: What Do the Numbers Mean?

You have probably given very little thought to those little stickers on the fresh produce you buy at the grocery store.

Indeed, they are of little use to you unless you are a store wanting to track exactly which produce is being purchased, and how much.

Known in the industry as PLU (Price-Look Up) codes, these numbers have been developed by the International Federation of Produce Standards (IFPS).

In the United States, PLU codes must have certified FDA compliant adhesives for direct food contact. PLU codes identify fruit and vegetables according to four factors:

  • commodity - kind of produce, such as a standard onion
  • variety - more details of a kind of produce, such as a Vidalia onion
  • growing methodology- organic or non-organic
  • size - large or small

What does a PLU code mean for you, the consumer?

  • The biggest trend in local produce is to identify something is organic. PLU codes that are 5 digits long, beginning with the number 9, indicate a product is organic. 
  • PLU codes no longer indicate whether items are non-genetically modified (non-GMO), although US Department of Agriculture requires that any item listed as 100% Certified Organic must also be non-GMO.

    Non-GMO does not necessarily mean organic. Non-GMO fruits and vegetables may be treated with conventional pesticides and therefore not meet the USDA 100% Certified Organic requirements.

    There are guides available to help you navigate not only companies but also specific foods, including fruits and vegetables, that are non-GMO. A PLU code will not help you decipher a non-GMO item.
  • It is also important to remember that not all retailers use PLU codes. If you are searching for organic fruits and vegetables, looking for PLU codes can be unreliable. However, retailers recognize the growing market in organic fruits and vegetables and often place the organic produce in a separate, easily identifiable section.

Keeping you’re health as your number one priority begins with eating healthy. You can optimize your food choices by selecting organic and non-GMO foods. The Environmental Working Groups provide a comprehensive list of typical fruits and vegetables, typical agricultural pesticide use, and recommendations on organic fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t have these resources at your finger tips on your next grocery shopping trip, just head for the clearly labeled organic section of your produce department or check for the 5-digit PLU codes.

Contact your local Metabolic Medical Center for guidance on incorporating organic fruits and vegetables into your individualized weight management plan.