So you joined the CSA?

26 Jul
Beautiful Bounty

So you’ve taken the first step in eating a more healthful, nutritious, and conscientious diet and joined our CSA, Eat with the Seasons (eatwiththeseasons.com).  Now what?  For the uninitiated, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In the simplest terms, this is a subscription service to a farm.  In return for a reasonable monthly fee, you can depend on local organic produce delivered weekly (in our case, you can pick up the produce starting Tuesday afternoons at FIT).  When Danielle and I first decided to split a share in the winter of 2009 (a whole share each would have been too much), we were more than excited about the prospect of getting fresh local fruits and veggies while supporting local farmers.  What we soon realized though, was that despite sharing the “box,” it was at times hard to find uses for all of the foods.

Danielle and I have found that the best way for us to effectively utilize our box is to order mostly vegetables.  In general, these tend to be more durable and have longer shelf lives than fruits.  Anyways, fruit is definitely better as fresh as possible, so it works out better to just buy that as I eat it.  So how do I decide how to ration out my vegetables so that I can use all of them while they’re still fresh? Since some of you may be new to the CSA route, I figured that I would give you all some ideas by describing how I use my box, especially as the options can change weekly.

Well, the greens are definitely the first thing to be eaten, as they will wilt and brown quickly.  It is great to know that when I open the refrigerator to make my lunch, there is always a fresh assortment of lettuces and other greens to build a salad or create a side dish.  Any of the root vegetables I get are usually not of any urgency, as they can stay relatively fresh in the refrigerator for quite some time.  Leeks, fennel, squashes, well those go into dishes as soon as possible.

The nice thing is, having the produce availability come out on Thursday gives me plenty of time to plan my weekly meals.  Radishes and cucumbers coming in the box? I’ll make sure I have some red wine vinegar and olive oil on hand to make a summertime salad.  How about Brussels sprouts? I better have some bacon on hand – cook the bacon, rendering its fat, then brown the sprouts in the smoky, salty grease.  The bell peppers that are becoming available go great sauteed in eggs, or else stuffed and roasted in the oven.

To give a few other ideas, I will be sharing what I have used each weeks’ ingredients for.  I don’t often use recipes, but feel free to shoot me a question if my suggestions make you lick your lips.

Week of 7/20 – 7/26

Arugula, Spinach, Bell Pepper, Cucumbers: all went into a tossed salad with some smoked salmon, a tomato, lavender goat cheese, avocado, and dressed with olive oil

Cucumber: Eaten raw and sliced as a side to crock pot chuck roast

Bell Pepper, Garlic, Onion: added to a sweet potato and bacon hash eaten alongside fried eggs (cooked in the rendered bacon fat)

Hope that helps with what you get in your Eat-with-the-Seasons box.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Ultimately, isn’t eating also about the joys of tastes and textures?

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3 Responses to “So you joined the CSA?”

  1. tracey4fit July 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    have found that the csa has introduced veggies to our meals that I previously didn’t bother with because I didn’t know what to do with them. Kohlrabi . . .had to look up what it was, let alone what to do with it; baby broccoli – my family’s new fave veggie (like asparagus and broccoli crossed – as my 5 year old says ‘like asparagus but doesn’t make my pee pee stink’); array of lettuces that haven’t been treated in order to last and look fresh in bags. Walking around the produce section can sometimes feel like walking into a gym where you try to figure out what’s the best thing for you . . . joining a CSA makes it a no brainer AND http://www.eatwiththeseasons.com lets you do a one month trial so you can figure out what size bag works best for you! Fire away with questions or concerns.

  2. Karen4fit July 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    For those of us that haven’t used a csa before, what would you consider the greatest advantage using this type of service? How does the csa work and how do we sign up?

    • Matthew Brockhaus August 18, 2010 at 11:30 am #

      CSAs are convenient and advantageous for several reasons. First and foremost, your produce is delivered TO YOU. In this hectic world, this definitely aids in getting ones produce.
      Additionally, using a CSA allows you to get farm-fresh seasonal produce at the peak of freshness. The fruits and vegetables are picked either the day of, or day before delivery, meaning that it can’t be any fresher. It will also last longer than store-bought produce because there is no lag time between harvesting and purchasing due to delivery time from farms to grocery stores.
      Another important reason to utilize CSAs is because it supports local farms and farmers. These financial transactions support not just the farms themselves, but local economies as a whole. The farmers will re-inject the proceeds from your CSA subscription back into the local economy in which both of you depend.
      Finally, and no less important, farm fresh produce is often times healthier and more nutritious. Many CSA farm producers are certified organic, or utilize organic (and sometimes more stringent) farming practices. Small local farmers tend to be conscientious stewards of the land in which they cultivate; respecting the land the farm on, as well as the surrounding ecosystems to ensure sustainability and healthy soil for generations to come. Recent analyses have found that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain significantly diminished quantities of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – than traditional farming practices. Organic and conscientious farming practices are attempting to reverse this process. As a result, CSA produce will most likely be more nutrient dense than what you can find in the grocery store – even conventional organics.

      To sign up for the CSA – Eat with the Seasons – and have delivery to FIT, visit the website http://eatwiththeseasons.com/index.html. We have our produce delivered on Tuesday (late morning/early afternoon). EWTS offers a four-week trial for those interested in the process, but not completely sold on jumping in head first.
      The ins-and-outs of the process are fairly straight forward: receive an email every Thursday with the available produce choices for the week (along with select pantry goods from cooperating producers), sign into the EWTS website and select what you’d like to order. Orders can range from 6 to 16 items per week (an item can be 1 butternut squash, 1lb. garlic, 1 bunch carrots, etc). From Thursday to Tuesday, all that is left for you to do is wait for your produce and come up with some tasty recipes to showcase the food you just ordered.
      For more questions, please contact Matt or Analisa: matt@focusedtrainers.com, analisa@focusedtrainers.com

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