Friday, August 24, 2012

7 reasons I love my CSA

This growing season marks the fourth year my family has participated in a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  It's been an incredible experience, and I am so glad we decided to try it out.   In a nutshell, when you are part of a CSA program, you commit to purchase produce through a local farmer throughout the growing season.  Ours generally runs from July through October.  Here are a few reasons why I love doing this.

1)  It pushes me outside my comfort zone.  Before a few years ago, I had never purchased an eggplant, let alone tasted one.  And kale?  Forget about it.  Although this picky eater had begun to try new things by the time we discovered CSAs, I still tended to buy the same kinds of vegetables over and over.  Getting a basket of season veg every week (these days it's positively overflowing!) has encouraged me to try new things on a regular basis.

2)  My kids get to learn about where their food originates.  I love that my children get the farm-food connection.  They do not believe that edibles originate in the grocery store.  When they're exposed to rural areas, to see fields and gardens, they can appreciate the effort which goes into the food on their table.  Real food at that.

3)  Choices galore.  As I've mentioned before, we have some picky eaters in our family.  (Yes, I deserve that.)  When my kitchen is overflowing with produce, I love serving at least two or three vegetable "dishes" at dinner every night - as well as offering some at other meals as well.  Last night last leftovers night, and between the re-warmed items and a few new items I put out, we had a record seven veg items to chose from!  Chard sauteed with onions in plenty of butter, steamed cauliflower, roasted beets with balsamic vinegar, Parmesan-roasted green beans, kale chips, cucumber slices, and pink coleslaw.  If a member of my family didn't walk away from that meal with a full stomach, it certainly wasn't from a lack of choices.

4)  Extra to "put by."  I'm still fairly new to this concept, but I sure am working on it.  This week I blanched and froze two big bags of green beans.  Last year I popped batch after batch of Roasted Summer Tomatoes into my freezer, and we enjoyed them all through the cold months.  I don't can, but fermenting summer produce in mason jars is a  fabulous way to preserve summer produce!

5)  They're just such nice people.  This may be a lame reason, but it's certainly a nice perk.  The pleasant lady who presents our basket every week, she was one of the only people who didn't bat an eyelash last summer when we told her we were expecting our 5th child.  Interacting with lovely folks may not have much to do with seasonal food, but it sure is nice.

6)  Supporting local farmers.  It's no secret that I love to shop local.  In supporting my area's economy, I am helping the people that I interact with as well as limiting the distance "from farm to table."

7)  Fresh, nutritious food!  Last but not least, I love the wonderfully fresh foods the CSA program gives us.  Delicious and crisp, tender and packed with flavor, this is seriously good stuff.  The lettuce is unbelievable, the cucumbers are divine, and the sweet corn is out of this world.  Superb quality, stellar flavor, it's a definite win-win situation if you ask me.

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