Thursday, September 8, 2011

Super Fresh, Local and Organic Produce!

Produce that I got one week this spring
I just got home from picking up my weekly produce share from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is, but I will sure try. Last year when I was pregnant with my daughter, my friends and I joined a produce share at a local organic farm. I was instantly hooked! We started our share in the Fall, so each week we got a variety of: apples, pears, greens (kale, chard, spinach, collards, arugula, etc), potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, rutabagas, broccoli, sun chokes, squash of all kinds, celery, lettuce, fennel, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, celery root, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots wheat berries and frozen berries. ALSO something that I, as someone who loves to cook, loved? You get to pick as many fresh herbs as you'd like. Rosemary, basil, chives, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint, cilantro, chervil, sorrel. Today I got: tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, lettuce, greens, onions, squash, peaches, blueberries, cucumbers, and I picked basil, cherry tomatoes, chives and cilantro. I'm telling you, I've never had such amazing and fresh tasting produce. Here's how it works at the farm we go to.

 Photo Credit Here
Our pick-up day is on Thursday. We arrive on the farm where our produce (picked just hours before) is waiting for us. You come into the farm store, where you're always greeted, then you sign in. On the tables, there are bins of each produce item, and you collect them yourself (it's either by weight or by count, depends on the produce). You can go outside after that and pick herbs, sometimes greens and sometime tomatoes. And that's really it! At the farm we use you can buy an egg share; the eggs come from their own organic free range hens. You can also get an organic bread share, and also a salad/greens share.

I've tried two different CSA options. One was a local farm, and the other was a larger company that would deliver a box produce strait to my door. The pros of the larger company were: I could choose what I got each week. If I didn't like beets, I'd never have to have beets. If I wanted extra apples, I could get extra apples. The reason they can do this, is because they get produce from all over (California, Mexico, etc), so it's definitely not all local. At first I enjoyed that my produce was delivered. Mostly because I just had a baby, and it just made my life easier. But as the weeks went on, I found that I wasn't as happy with the produce that was arriving. Sometimes I'd get great apples, but other times I'd get wrinkly, mealy ones. I got a tomato once that had mold on top. My potatoes were always on the brink of being shriveled, and for the most part, the produce only lasted a few days (with the local farm, my produce would last days, if not weeks). Granted, the larger company would credit my account whenever I was unhappy with my produce, it just became annoying. Especially because of my food budget. I have a certain amount each month, and when I've already spent part of it on produce I'm counting on for my menus, a credit doesn't do me much good for that week. If you can't tell, I personally prefer the local farm. It's actually cheaper than the larger company, and I really enjoy going each week to pick my own produce. The only downside, in my opinion, is you don't get to choose your produce. You get what they're harvesting that week. But honestly, I'm good with it! I want what's in season.

I SO recommend trying out a CSA share. For one thing, if you're wanting to include more organic fruits and veggies into your diet, it's cheaper than if you went to the store and bought all of the same stuff. Plus, you're supporting small local farmers, and the food is fresher than anything you could get at any grocery store. If you're unsure about it, or aren't sure you will go through the produce, go in on it with a friend! Belonging to a CSA is the very best way to get local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. You will be exposed to new fruits and vegetables, and new ways of cooking them. That's the reason I'm mentioning the CSA here in the blog. I will be posting recipes in the coming weeks based on the produce I'm getting. If you have any questions about CSA, feel free to ask! If you're wondering if there's one in your area, please check out Local Harvest.

Until the next post, be Blessed!

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