Here are the 5 things I learned from my CSA this week:
1.) I don’t mind finding bugs in my food. In my very first batch of CSA produce there was a tiny slug, which I discovered while rinsing a head of lettuce. You can “yuck” and “eew” all you want, but a small bug in my food every once in a while is a reminder that my food is fresh and hasn’t been doused in a chemical bath. This guy was alive and well, so I put him outside, finished rinsing the lettuce, and got on with dinner. (I did not put him anywhere near the garden, because these guys can wreak some serious havoc in there!) So long as it’s not one of those giant spiders I saw on the farm crawling out of my lettuce, I think I’ll be okay.
2.) You get more for your money. The way the CSA works is that you pay up front at the beginning of the season for a “projected harvest.” When there is a surplus in the harvest (and I am told this happens more often than not,) you get more food. It’s as simple as that. When does that happen in a grocery store? Sure, every once in a while you’ll see the ol’ cart in the produce aisle with items about to go rancid, where you can score a bag of bananas that are knocking down death’s door for .70 cents, but I’m guessing you’re not getting anywhere near the quality or quantity you get when when the surplus comes straight from the farm.
3.)It’s forcing me to cook with items I’ve never attempted before. One of my favorite games to play in the grocery story is what I like to call “produce aisle roulette,” where I choose a random item I’ve never eaten or cooked with and take it home. Sometimes this works out great and leads to a new favorite recipe (i.e.: bok choy stir fry with mushrooms,) and sometimes this leads to me gagging over the sink (i.e.: the cold papaya soup episode of summer of 2011.) Either way it’s worth a shot, and always adds some new flair to my usual recipes.
4.) The difference between a radish and a beet. Last year, I wouldn’t have cared because I probably wouldn’t have purchased either of them. But when I got the batch of food, I had no choice but to figure it out. I cursed google images while scanning through the pics, but I discovered quickly that it was beets I was working with. The recipe I found made the search worth it – oven roasted beets with fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil, served over warm bread and topped with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar:
Recipe coming soon. And finally…
5.) CSA language is different than mine. Before the CSA started we received an email from the farm explaining that the early batches may seem like not a whole lot of food, but not to be discouraged, since the harvest gets bigger and bigger as the season goes on. Apparently “not a whole lot of food” does not have a universal meaning. I opened the box and went “Whoa!” then instantly had a panic attack. This was a lot of food! And if this is considered not a whole lot, I can’t even imagine what’s to come. If you don’t find any updates on my blog around July, come look for me – you might find me in my kitchen, buried under an avalanche of zucchini. Hopefully I’ll still be breathing.
Are you a part of a CSA? Have you ever been? Let me know what you learned in the comments! I added a CSA section as a category here for specifically those recipes, so feel free to check them out – I will update them as the season goes on.