When you’re shopping for fruits and vegetables, more is less — money per pound, that is. The highly detailed graph below illustrates how heavier items like potatoes and apples cost less than lighter ones like greens or berries.
There are several practical reasons for this. Bigger and heavier items tend to pile up faster when they are being harvested on the farm, which lowers the cost per pound to the grower. They are also more efficient to haul since you can fit many more pounds of potatoes, say, in a semi-truck than you can spinach leaves. If they are coming from far away, however, the economics may change — airfreight is priced by weight instead of by cubic foot.
Let’s compare two vegetables that are very closely related: Cabbage and Kale. A cabbage is a compact and heavy collection of dozens of leaves, packed together in a form that makes it convenient and easy to harvest. Kale must be picked one leaf at a time, and even when bundled together it weighs a fraction of a head of cabbage. Fill two identical boxes, one with each vegetable. The box of cabbage weighs 40 or more pounds, and took just a few minutes to harvest. The kale weighs barely 20, and took half an hour to pick.
This is why kale usually costs a shopper more, per pound, then cabbage.
Many light-weight produce items are also delicate, which means they must be handled with more care. That slows things down and thus costs more. But there are heavy fruits and vegetables that take extra care too, such as tomatoes and peaches.
Spring on our farm brings an abundance of light and delicate vegetables. Strawberries, peas, asparagus and salad greens are all high-value items that take lots of time and TLC to harvest and pack. That means that your CSA boxes are lighter, with fewer total items in them. You may find your box disappearing more quickly than usual and providing you with less food.
This is not a choice we make, but rather a fact of the season. We are growing or procuring just about every type of fruit and vegetable that is in season in Northern California right now.
There’s an easy way to get more produce from us this time of year: Size up your box. Sure it will cost you more money, but it’s good stuff. I would especially recommend this strategy if you’re currently getting a Small box. It’s easy to change to a different size box, and you can change back any time.