It was such a cool and exciting day last spring when we got an email from our friends asking if we’d like to take their CSA share for the first part of the summer while they were traveling. Would we? My semi-newness to the area and unsure job situation, plus general procrastination meant that we hadn’t signed up for a CSA share, even though I wanted to. What could be better than doing a CSA trial run?
And so, for 8 wonderful weeks we traveled to Caretaker Farm on Tuesdays and picked up all the organic veggies we could fit in our bag. Perhaps I’m overly dramatic, but it may’ve been life changing. Our friends are back now, and we’re glad (really), but they’ll be collecting the food from now on. It’s kind of sad, though it’ll certainly give me reason to start frequenting the farmer’s market. If nothing else, I definitely learned a lot from the CSA.
5 Things I Learned from Being a [temporary] CSA Member:
1. Vegetables have seriously short seasons. The first couple weeks at the farm yielded greens, radishes, spinach…and not a whole lot else. Honestly, I was a little disappointed, not being a big fan of salads. And then, a few weeks later, no more spinach. Why? Because vegetables actually have growing seasons! It was fascinating to escape the “everything’s always available” mantra of the supermarket and eat produce that was actually locally in season, not grown in a greenhouse halfway across the country.
2. “Real” vegetables don’t look perfect. I actually hesitated to pick up “imperfect” looking food. Why? They’re plants. They’re not going to look perfect. There’s something freeing about eating food that looks natural, not perfect.
3. Food naturally comes in some really cool colors. There’s a lot more to salads then green. “Purple haze” carrots, kohlrabi, purple peppers (did I mention I love purple?), nevermind red radishes and striped beets, red leaf lettuce, yellow squash. Beautiful, really.
4. Fresh, organic lettuce tastes better. Maybe it’s all in my head, but prior to hanging out at Caretaker Farm, I rarely bought lettuce. I am not a salad person. And yet, we’ve consumed an awful lot of salads around here over the past 2 months. And I liked them. Some of the credit for that goes to my husband for his awesome salads and delicious dressing, but the rest of the credit goes to the lettuce.
5. It’s fun to try new things. Beets, bok choy, kohlrabi, turnips, garlic scapes. I loved them all, with the exception of the beets, which I’ll tolerate in small doses. Without the farm, I’m not sure I ever would’ve tried them.
My one regret is that I definitely wasn’t as creative with our bounty as I thought I’d be. I could make excuses (I’m good at that!), but it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully next summer we’ll be CSA-ing again on a more permanent basis and I’ll be more prepared to make some creative dishes. At any rate, I got really good at roasting vegetables :)
On an unrelated note, congratulations to Caitlin! The Operation Beautiful book was officially released today, she’ll be on the Today Show on Thursday and is living the healthy living blogger dream. I’m so happy for her (and so excited to meet her at the Healthy Living Summit in 10 days!)
This is making me so excited to try a CSA…next summer. Bummed I have to wait but I didn’t hop on it fast enough this year. Thank goodness for farmers’ markets!
The farm we have our CSA at has a winter share–signups start soon. We just decided to sign on for the winter too. I can’t go back to supermarket vegetables!
I often think about that when I shop, about what food is in season when I make my purchases. Granted, right now I live on a farm and so am a little too aware of what is in season (for instance, the better part of my morning was spent harvesting a potato patch).
Which, really, is just to say Yay you and your veggie goodness!
True! I hated salads until I ate bucketloads of organic CSA lettuce. And I have a hard time being creative because I’m so afraid of them going bad before I find a suitable recipe. Must do more research…although roasting always brings out the flavor better than a fancypants recipe. And simple is good. So what are we worrying about?