Friday, February 8, 2013

8 Thoughts on CSA

Last November, I began receiving weekly deliveries from a winter season CSA. Signing up for a CSA is kind of like purchasing a share of the farm's harvest. You aren't buying the produce from a retailer; you're buying it from the farm directly. You can search for a CSA in your area here.

Here are my thoughts so far:

1. Why, hello there, fiber. Want to get more vegetables into your diet? Join a CSA. You'll be up to your elbows in fresh vegetables with no excuse not to eat them. My CSA sends a weekly e-newsletter that includes recipes too.

2. It's exciting. "Ooh, we got carrots!" is an exclamation I never thought I'd utter, but that changed with my CSA. Even though the majority of the produce is pretty traditional fare like apples, potatoes, onions, etc., it's a surprise each week. The excitement makes it easier to use everything up.

CSA vegetable soup with celery root and lots of other stuff.
3. I'm trying new things. Last week, there were two odd, root-looking things in my box and several of these root things lying next to my box (discarded). I asked someone working at the drop-off site (I pick mine up at a cafe) if he knew what it was, and he informed me that it was celery root and that it was good in soups. Armed with that knowledge, I actually picked up one of the discarded ones that someone had left. They taste just fine, but the point is that I've never seen a recipe calling for celery root, and I never would have thought to buy one if I saw it in a store.

4. I have a closer connection to my food's source.  I know where the farm is that this food came from. I could drive to it if I wanted to. I understand that a human being was responsible for the food's production and delivery. Sure, we all know that's how food gets to our table, but how often do we think about it? I think about it a lot more now.

5. I waste less. Because I feel more connected to the food's origin, I have a greater sense of the effort involved. I have had to throw away some things (see #7 below), and I feel terrible about it. My solution was to start splitting my share with a friend, and I think that's working out much better, and now we both get to reap the benefits. I also feel less wasteful in general because I'm eating more fresh food close to the source and fewer packaged items.

Salads are exciting with CSA butternut squash!
6. It's seasonal. There's a lot of talk lately about eating with the seasons, but it's hard to do when we can get bananas and strawberries all year long in most supermarkets. I'm not even totally sure what's in season at any given time, so the CSA takes out the guesswork. Hint: It's apparently brussels sprouts season.

7. One negative--too much of the same thing (see: brussels sprouts). Yes, it's seasonal, and that's very important, but I'd be better able to use everything if there was a little more variety. Actually, I'd be better able to use everything if there was just less of everything.

8. Fewer or shorter trips to the grocery store. I just realized today that I go to the store a lot less than I used to and I spend less time there. That's pretty cool. I'm usually able to whip up an impromptu meal with ingredients I already have, or I only have to pick up a couple items to make a meal.

If you belong to a CSA, how has your experience been? 


Laura said...

That soup looks really good! I was looking up brussels sprouts recipes online tonight because I bought some at the store, but they don't look nearly as nice as the one in your soup. It seems roasting them is the thing to do now. I don't currently belong to a CSA, but that's something I plan to change.

Domestic Kate said...

Thanks, Laura! I'd never prepared brussels sprouts myself until a few weeks ago.

I tried sauteing them, but they didn't cook quickly enough (I was cooking them with other vegetables). Then I tried roasting them, and I overdid it and they were gross.

After a little internet browsing, I found out that if you saute them, it's best to trim off the ends and then cut a little X on the bottom to let the heat in. They cook more evenly and quickly this way.

For the soup, I cut the Xs again, and I put them in last. When they were tender, the soup was ready to eat.

Domestic Kate said...

P.S. Here's what's in the soup: vegetable broth, onion, celery root, garlic, parsnip, potatoes, brussels sprouts. For seasoning: parsley, sage, basil, thyme.

Mom said...

I cut the brussel sprouts in half and saute' them with onions and bacon, and add black pepper. On your sweet potato salad, did you cook them first, or are they raw?

Domestic Kate said...

It's butternut squash, but yes, I roasted it first.

Laura said...

Thanks for the soup recipe. I'm going to try it.

When I was a kid my parents used to boil brussels sprouts whole, and they were always bitter. I hated them because I thought they were naturally bitter. Then this past Christmas my mom used a recipe that involved cutting them in half, and then baking them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bacon and something else, I forget what. Needless to say they tasted a lot better.

Domestic Kate said...

That sounds good too. I think they are a little bitter naturally, but overcooking them might have been the culprit as well.