A box of fresh vegetables delivered every week…filled with vegetables that have been picked that very day and bonus…the kids are excited about what they are and wanting to give them a taste! This isn’t a dream, it’s a CSA. What is a CSA? An acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. Fancy words for receiving a farm-fresh box of produce each week throughout the growing season in exchange for buying a share of the farm. We’ve been CSA subscribers for three years now and the benefits are many:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – typically picked the day you receive them which means their flavor and nutrients are at their peak.
- An opportunity to try new vegetables and figuring out new ways of cooking (you get to be creative!)
- A chance to support a local farm in your area by purchasing a share in the farm.
- A boost in vegetable intake because each box is filled with beautiful vegetables you don’t want to see go in the garbage.
- Kids look forward to the surprise inside the box each week enticing them to want to try new vegetables!
And there are advantages for farmers as well:
- Having automatic customers for the food they are growing each year
- Getting paid early in the growing season to boost cash flow for the farm
- Develop relationships with the customers buying their food
We subscribed this year for $350 for 18 weeks of vegetables – if you do the math its $19.44 per week for our family. Less than $5 per person for seriously high-quality vegetables. While we have a garden, it’s about 225 square feet which provides us with produce intermittently throughout the season. We like the CSA because it’s reasonable (we’d spend much more at the grocery store for the same produce), it gets us to try new things that we tend to skip in the grocery store, and it pretty much forces us to up our vegetable intake. Which means we stay healthier. I can’t put a price on that. (Hey, a simple doctor’s visit is the same price.)
So, I plan to take you through a typical CSA share in Minnesota starting with week one (which we received in just last week) from our CSA – Hilltop Greenhouse and Farm.
Here are some of the beauties from the box.
Butter Leaf Lettuce
See what I mean? So beautiful. And nourishing. And fresh.
And a super simple recipe since our box was full of garden-fresh greens this past week. Had to serve it on a garden trowel because they were just picked from the garden!
- 2-3 cups fresh garden greens (any type of lettuce, spinach or chard)
- 1 fresh peach, pitted and sliced (with skin)
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 2-3 tablespoons poppyseed dressing
- Toss all ingredients into a bowl, dressing lightly. Serve immediately as a side salad.
- This salad could also serve one as a main dish. Hearty and filling.
I hope you give it a try!
If you are looking for a CSA in your area, be sure to visit www.localharvest.org. Type in your zip code and find CSA’s in your area.
And ask around your local area for the best CSA’s since when you purchase a share, you are assuming a shared risk with the farmer due to weather or natural disasters. And before you invest, just ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I like to cook and does my schedule allow me to make homemade meals most evenings?
- Will it be fun to vegetables that are new to me?
- How will I handle excess produce? (Do you have a neighbor who would like to get some if you get “behind”?) Feeling bad about wasting food is one of the top reasons former CSA members site for not renewing.
- Am I willing to accept the unknowns involved in “shared risk”?
If you have never tried it before, I highly recommend it.
And be sure to take a look at the recipes below by other dietitians using garden-fresh produce. It’s the Recipe ReDux theme of the month for July!