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How Does Imperfect Produce Square with Local CSAs?

The community-supported agriculture service hit Chicago’s market this summer, promising low prices for produce with defects. Here’s how it compares with two local options.

Tony Kettaneh (foreground) and Adrian Olivares prepare fruits and vegetables for delivery to a customer at Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks.   Photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune

Imperfect Produce

Weekly price:$15 to $43 for seven to 25 pounds (organic option)

Pros:Pick your own mix; reduce waste since the food might otherwise be pitched.

Cons:Produce is sourced from anywhere, so you aren’t necessarily supporting area farmers. Buyers have complained about laughably tiny veg in cases where the flaw is size.

The Urban Canopy

Weekly price:$42 to $45 for 15 to 20 pounds

Pros:Eclectic (think broccoli rabe and champagne grapes, in many cases organic), plus bonus items like kimchi and beer.

Cons:You get what they give (i.e., you can’t customize beyond declining nonproduce like eggs and bread) and must commit to a whole season.

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks

Weekly price:$25 to $47 for eight to 25 pounds

Pros:Mostly organic. Also available: a meat option that includes antibiotic-free chicken and grass-fed beef.

Cons:No exotic purple carrots here — it’s all standard grocery store fare like bananas. If staying local is a must, note that some items are imported.


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