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Joining the CSA

January 26, 2010

We recently joined our local CSA, which means each week we get to pick up a box of locally grown, organic veggies. It’s been quite the experience. Here are my thoughts thus far:

!. When you buy into a CSA, you’re really buying into the philosophy behind the thing, because it’s not that practical. At least, not for a family of seven. This would be great for a couple or a much smaller family. We just go through so much food around here, so beyond this box, I am still buying loads of fresh fruits and veggies at the store. (And oh, how I miss my own lovely garden!)

2. With the exception of carrots and kale, they don’t give you much of one thing to work with. I cooked up the bunch of beets last night, and ended up with literally a handful of roasted beets and a small bowl of beet greens. And what does one do with one parsnip?

3. That said, it is fun to experiment with some of those sidelined vegetables, the ones that don’t get much playing time in the cookbook of life. I made a bok choy stir fry that was a surprise hit, and found that kale can be added to a great many things (spaghetti!) without interrupting the overall theme.

4. The biggest bonus is the enthusiasm of the kids in picking up the weekly box. It is an event. And, as you can see, the added luxury is that Preston’s plastic horse finally has a good place to rest its head, under the awning of this very expensive, unidentified vegetable. Ahh, the benefits of going local.

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31 Comments
  1. Janelle permalink
    January 26, 2010 7:48 am

    Yay! How cool. Even for a small family, we’ve had similar issues. But it’s still so fun and it makes me feel very… Americana, pastoral romantic… I can’t think of any more words to describe it.

  2. conradvisionquest permalink
    January 26, 2010 10:23 am

    oh how i wish there were a CSA where i live! but, i like growing my own… great post!

    • January 26, 2010 2:16 pm

      I am not in a place to grow my own right now, but I agree with you–growing your own is definitely the best. Love that dirt under my fingernails!

  3. January 26, 2010 10:25 am

    Roast the beets and parsnip and carrot together! Delicious with either balsamic vinegar and brown sugar or Russian spice blend: cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, marjoram, s+p.

    Your observation about quantities of each item was something I dealt with early on in my CSA–I tried to grow everything under the sun. I’ve cut back a lot on the sheer numbers of things I grow now in favor of growing more of each thing.

    Have fun with it! Cute horse picture, too.

  4. John Gholdston permalink
    January 26, 2010 11:22 am

    How delightful! I do love to keep notified of your progresses in the world. Best of luck in Minn. Take your mukluks.

    • January 26, 2010 2:18 pm

      Dearest Brother Gholdston! You are obviously more in with the Minnesota-speak. What on earth are mukluks?

  5. 1dental permalink
    January 26, 2010 11:29 am

    I saw your post on the homepage and really enjoyed it! I see the drawbacks, but what a great way to do something healthy while supporting your local community/economy. Thanks!

  6. January 26, 2010 11:43 am

    that photo screams SOUP!

  7. January 26, 2010 12:09 pm

    How are the supermarkets in the US doing these days? Have they caught up with England yet and offer plenty of organic veggies, chicken etc. and also tell you how far the food travelled to get to the supermarket, so you know how local the produce is?

    • January 26, 2010 2:21 pm

      They’re getting much better–each time I go there is more of that sort of thing. Unfortunately, organic/local is still a luxury for the upper classes because it’s so prohibitively expensive. This is reflected in the stores: those in more upscale neighborhoods offer a great deal more organic and local.

  8. January 26, 2010 12:14 pm

    very healthy choice,
    going green and being supportive of such is cool…

  9. Ali permalink
    January 26, 2010 12:26 pm

    You can get that kind of produce in January? I need to move the Austin for the winter!

    • Ali permalink
      January 26, 2010 12:26 pm

      Editing would be helpful before posting. I meant I need to move TO Austin.

      • January 26, 2010 2:23 pm

        Oh, we would love it! Except now we’re moving, so no, you must move to Minnesota. We’ll grow…snow sculptures!

  10. Amber permalink
    January 26, 2010 2:11 pm

    I did a CSA in Phoenix and had largely the same estimation of the experience. Really have to get creative with those veggies! You’ll have to send me the info on the one you joined, I’ve been missing it.

    • January 26, 2010 2:25 pm

      Johnson’s Backyard Garden–if you click where I hypertexted CSA, it’ll go to their website.

  11. vintagejenta permalink
    January 26, 2010 2:33 pm

    I’ve always heard from people I know who’ve signed up for CSAs that they send you too much produce! Maybe next time you should order a double share? Some places also let you request what to receive, so maybe you could request large amounts of just a few veggies, instead of little bits of a lot of different ones?

    I’ve long wanted to get involved with a CSA, but I now live in an area so chock full of farmer’s markets, and have such a small fridge and freezer, that it is both more economical and more environmentally friendly for me to buy local one bunch of veggies at a time.

    Still, I envy your box o’ variety that appears every week!

  12. January 26, 2010 2:38 pm

    YES! CSA sounds like a great initiative- why stop there? and step up to URBAN Agriculture- Why not plant veggies in our cities, delicious spinach, broccoli, parsley and community orchards- apple trees lining our streets.

  13. January 26, 2010 2:58 pm

    This is such a great concept! I can see how having ONE parsnip can be a pain, but you can easily add it in a Pottage or leek soup replacing the usual potato. And it’s so flavorful! I’ll have to see if they have that in Cleveland!

    – Kloé

  14. jangee permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:22 pm

    Tiffany, I am so excited for you to have joined this group. You are going to love living up North, because you can grow a real garden!

  15. softballgirl78 permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:22 pm

    I think joining a CSA is a great idea. For a smaller family it might work better, but the idea behind it is a good one.

  16. January 26, 2010 6:35 pm

    Wow this is pretty interesting. I should look into seeing if I have one where I stay.

  17. Sheralie permalink
    January 26, 2010 11:34 pm

    I would throw one parsnip in a roast or stew but there are many things in todays world not so helpful for “large families” (more than two children?). I would love more ideas on kale because I haven’t fallen in love with it myself.

  18. January 27, 2010 4:35 am

    I’ve been getting a CSA for about a year now, and I love it! I love the challenge of unfamiliar vegetables and trying new ways to prepare ones I don’t think I like. I started a secondary blog last fall about it where each week I show what I got and tell what I plan to do with it. Then, if it comes out well, I’ll do a recap post. Maybe it will help you out!

    http://seasonalmarketmenus.wordpress.com

  19. January 27, 2010 5:09 am

    I just joined my first CSA for the upcoming spring and summer season. I am already excited about what will show up in my first basket. I will still grow herbs and tomatoes but I don’t have time to grow much else. I love the idea of supporting a farm tucked into the suburban sprawl.

  20. January 27, 2010 5:40 am

    I really thought about doing this mainly to support the CSA. I actually signed up for a box delivery of another carrier, unrelated to CSA, and I loved having a box of vegetables delivered. It’s just 2 of us in my house so we should have been ok with it but I missed variety – their options were limited and I am into lots of different raw fruits & vegetables. Also expensive. Maybe I try it again!!! Great and honest post :)!

  21. January 27, 2010 6:17 am

    Hilarious! It’s nice to see a balanced approach to the pros (and cons) of CSAs. Thanks for being honest about your experience.

  22. January 27, 2010 7:34 am

    Oh wow, I LOVE our CSA… every 7 years my family and I let our garden rest for a WHOLE year… So we joined a CSA instead! 🙂 If you visit http://www.maplecreekfarm.com, that’s the one we joined. They’re pretty awesome, because it’s a family-owned business and we got to volunteer for a day. Aside from the CSA they have their produce at a farmer’s market in Royal Oak (a ritzy area) and now sell their lettuce and other produce to Inn Season, a vegetarian restaurant in Royal Oak, and Mind, Body, Spirits–a vegetarian upscale restaurant in Rochester (a semi-ritzy town by me with really high taxes). I love CSAs, local businesses that want to help us and create a better environment make me proud.

    Oh and as I was reading your paragraph about the “sidelined” veggies, I thought, OH! KALE! and then you posted… KALE! I was like yAy! This is Awesome!!! 🙂 Seriously, I love kale. There’s an amazing recipe my mom makes. She sautees onions and I think garlic and cooks the kale with that and mixes in italian bread crumbs. I know there’s a bit more to that recipe, but it is SO good.

    Thanks for a great post! 😀

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