Wednesday, May 25, 2011

you joined a CSA... so now what?

For those of you who don't know, the carnivore and I joined a CSA this year. We are just a few weeks in, but already loving it. (Maybe me more than him - but I am the veggie lover and cook in our house, so that's to be expected.) If you are unfamiliar with the term CSA, it means community supported agriculture or community shared agriculture. In essence, a local farm has several people sign up for a goodie bag each week. You pay a set price for a number of weeks (ours lasts 26) and you go pick up your share at a set date and time. Ours comes from a great place called Whitton Farms. You can read more about them here.

The best thing about CSA's is the surprise. For me its kinda like Christmas morning. I count down the hours until I can go pick up my bag each week. As you can see from the picture we have already been blessed with all kinds of amazing fresh produce. Everything from strawberries and swiss chard to sweet potatoes and spinach. We have also received some organic staples, like brown rice and local honey. We have even brought home fresh herbal breads and pizza dough.

But, if you do join a CSA, you have to be flexible. You may have to adjust your weekly menu to work around the groceries you get. For me this challenge is part of the fun. So let's take my recent grab bag as an example. Since I got strawberries and honey I could make my goat cheese pumpernickle toast, since the recipe calls for me to top it with both the sweet berries and the sticky honey. I could saute some of the onions and put them on top of my blue cheese portabellas. I can boil some of the broccoli and tossed it in a primavera pasta, which I can serve with the rosemary bread. I can make a wonderful strawberry and spinach salad for lunch too. The snap peas can be a great accompaniment to a simple stirfry. The fresh pizza dough can make a great base for any number of gourmet pizzas or even a quick calzone, also a great use for some of the spinach.

I know as the seasons change from spring to summer and then to fall, my bag of farm fresh goodies will continue to throw me curve balls. But I am looking forward to the bounty that is to come - from heirloom tomatoes to huckleberries, and there are even promises of fresh eggs!

So, if you do join a CSA (and I really suggest you do - it supports small farmers, it is good for your family to get fresh local produce, and it is good for the environment too) remember, even if you get items that are unfamiliar a quick web search can not only help you identify them, it can also lead you to some great recipes. I promise to post my ideas, like adding diced radishes to a corn and black bean salad, as they happen. And if that fails, well, you can always have you taste tester try the wares straight from the bag. Mmmm strawberries!

5 comments:

  1. I have been looking into joining a CSA for awhile now, but I'm kind of nervous for several reasons.
    1) I'm cooking for 2 and I'm worried we will never eat that much produce before it goes bad.
    2) My carnivore is pretty picky about the veggies he will eat.
    3) The cost seems much higher than regular store or famers market prices.
    Any tips on how that works for your family?

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  2. as for costs, we are splitting a full share with my parents. that means our weekly cost for half of what you see above is less than $14. i have priced this out at my local markets and it is pretty on target. plus, i know these are all organic. as for the picky eater, i totally sympathize. the baby & i do eat most of the green goodies, but i have two other options for you - freeze leftovers or sneak veggies into your carnivore's meals. i do it all the time. grated squash in his mac&cheese, red peppers in his pasta sauce, etc. it can be done!

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  3. I bit the bullet and signed up for a CSA box. The first week went off without a hitch! The quality was superb, the price was OK, and we ended up eating it all in time!
    Thanks for the advice.

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  4. Awesome! We are still loving our CSA too!

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  5. What a great idea, we haven't got CSA in our area - i'm so jealous!

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