It’s Like Christmas!

12 05 2011

Last Wednesday, I felt like a kid anxiously waiting to open her Christmas presents!

Why you ask? Well, I picked up my first CSA box full of locally grown, organic vegetables! This may not be exciting for many of you, but as someone who craves vegetables like Chloe, I was SUPER excited…especially since I’ve been waiting for this day forever since I signed up a few months ago!

What’s a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a community of people of commit to support a local farm or farms through the purchase of shares prior to the start of the growing season. Then, throughout the season, shareholders receive their allotment of produce, fruit, meat-products or dairy, depending on the type of CSA. This can be risky though, because you pay up front for the season, and you’ll get what the farms produce, whether the harvest is plentiful, or not.

Why CSA?

Last fall, I read Barbara Kingslover’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and was really inspired by her mission to eat locally and seasonally for a year. Though I’m not in a position where I think I could eat all local all the time, the book really got me thinking about what things I could do to support local agriculture. I already go to my local farmer’s market, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, but I wanted to take it a step further. So, I decided to join a CSA.

My main reasons for joining were:

1) I wanted to support local agriculture.

2) I love vegetables!

3) I love to cook, especially when it comes to experimenting with new ingredients! And, my schedule typically allows me to cook at home several times a week.

4) Though I will have to supplement my weekly box, it worked out to about $17/week, which for a box of organic vegetables, is a steal!

5) I want to push myself to plan my meals around the food I have. Normally, I find a recipe and purchase all the ingredients to make it, but then I’m often left with a whole lot of  a random ingredient, which ends up sitting in the fridge until it goes bad. So I’m looking forward to the challenge of coming up with meals  using what I have on hand.  🙂

How did I decide which one to join?


Local Harvest is a great resource for anyone interested in joining a CSA. It is really important to do your research before joining a CSA, since it is quite a different experience than going to the grocery store to pick up a few veggies for the week. There are a bunch of bloggers out there who’ve participated in CSAs and wrote about their experiences, which I found through a quick Google search. Please read up before taking the plunge!

One site suggested talking to people who had participated in a CSA before, which is exactly what I did. I spoke with some of my colleagues who I knew had participated in a CSA last season. They had positive things to say about their CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. LFFC is a cooperative of 75 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Though Lancaster County isn’t in my backyard, I still consider this “local,” since the food is coming from less than 200 miles away. I also really like that my food will come from several farms, and I’ll have (I think) a somewhat greater variety of produce in each box.

So, weekly (until October!) I’ll pick up a box of vegetables to eat (and to blog about!). Each week, I’ll get an email about what I can expect in my box, but I’m sure there will be surprises. I’m looking forward to getting and using vegetables I’ve never heard of or seen before. Someone special just bought me this book, which I think will help me try to create some new recipes using the unfamiliar vegetables!

This week, here’s what I got in my box:

1 Bunch White Scallions – Certified Organic – Friends Road Organics

½ lb. Watercress – Certified Organic – Elm Tree Organics

1 Bunch Rhubarb – Certified Organic – Country View Produce

1 Bunch Tatsoi (Japanese Spinach) – Certified Organic –  Hillside Organics

1 Package Cremini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms – Certified Organic –  Mother Earth Organics

Unfortunately, I received the box right before my trip to Florida so I really didn’t get to experiment as much as I would have liked. I had also planned to give my box to Chloe, but we ran out of time to meet up before I left! Maybe I should have tried this tip…Regardless, I was still able to get good use out of my veggies, so here’s what I made:

  • I made a huge salad right away, with the watercress, tatsoi, scallions and mushrooms. I supplemented the salad with some tomatoes and walnuts, and dressed it with a poppy seed dressing.
  • When I got back from my trip, the remaining tatsoi was on its last leg, but I was able to saute it in some EVOO with the mushrooms to make an make an omelet topped with goat cheese. On the side, I had a watercress salad.

(apologies for the hair; it was on the lens, not the food!!)

  • A tempeh, watercress, brie, and jam sandwich inspired by Kath:

  • Finally, a Strawberry Orange-Rhubarb  bread. Recipe to come soon!

Hopefully, in the future, I’ll have some more exciting recipes to share!

Questions of the day: Are you a part of a CSA? What have you found to be the best/worst parts? OR What questions do you have about joining a CSA?