Something new is happening this weekend for the Engledows! This Saturday we are picking up our first share from a local CSA! Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “What the heck is a CSA?” (let me give you a hint, it doesn’t stand for Casting Society of America or Certified Senior Advisors.)
[via Wikipedia] Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit in a vegetable box scheme, sometimes including dairy products and meat.
This year I really wanted to make an effort to eat better and introduce more (and different) veggies into our diet. Since I cook almost every night now, it has been much easier for me to feed healthier dinners to my family and this seemed like the next logical step. Also, it does make me feel good that we are supporting our local farmers.
How did I hear about this foodie concept? My sister, Beth, joined a CSA near her and introduced me to this idea. Now that my two youngest are a little older and have branched out (not much, though) from corn (I realize that this is really a grain!) and green beans, I decided to seriously consider the CSA concept.
Our CSA is Balanced Harvest Farm. Once I started doing the research, I discovered that there are a lot of CSA options for us in our area! I had no idea – either they need to advertise more or we need to get out more! Since this is new to me, I asked one of my BFFs to join me this season by splitting a full share to see how it goes. It would make me sick if we let a bunch of fresh veggies go to waste. I’m not really into canning/freezing so sharing the weekly basket seeemed the best way to go. Every Fall Mike and I used to pick and can apples (apple sauce, apple butter, blah, blah) when we owned a house that had 9 apples trees (nine trees can generate a TON of apples). That experience pretty much killed any romantic notions that I had of preserving food and living off of the land – I never want to see another glass canning jar ever. It took me awhile to get to the point where I could even enjoy an apple again.
Anywho, I had a pep talk with my two non-veggie-eating munchkins to inform them of our new food adventure – if they don’t eat what is before them, they may leave the table a little hungry! We are all going to be trying new things – even me. For example, I have a strong dislike for the following foods when they are cooked – carrots, peas and spinach. These vegetables are just lovely when raw, but something horribly, terribly wrong occurs when they get heated. So, in the spirit of cooperation, I promised to attempt to enjoy these veggies (even cooked) if they end up in our box.
Here is the list of goodies that will be in our vegetable box this week:
Heirloom Salad Mix & Head Lettuce – I love salads!
Snap Peas – I’m not really a Pea fan, but I’m going to give them a shot.
Curly Endive – I’ve never had this before and I’m not exactly sure what it is. I’ve had regular endive before (a la Julia Child).
Sorrel – What the heck is this stuff? I need to do some research on this one.
Escarole – Again, I think I’ve seen it in the stores, but I’m not sure what to do with it.
Japanese Salad Turnips – My grandfather ate raw turnips at every meal, but I’m not sure they were the Japanese variety.
Mint – An interesting herb – I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with it.
If anyone has any good ideas for family-friendly recipes using some of the more exotic items listed, send them to me! My menu planning for the next week will be very challenging since I have some research to do.
Check out http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for information on finding a local CSA in your area!