In the mid-1960's several Japanese housewives concerned about a rise in imported foods got together and started a "teikei," Japanese for what we refer to as a weekly CSA vegetable box. It took a couple more decades for the "eat local" concept to reach the States and longer for it to gain broad appeal. I have always thought the idea of Community Supported Agriculture was a good one, just not for me. I held on to some notion that I wanted the freedom to select my own vegetables on my own schedule. What was I thinking?
Last year, seduced by a free box of attractive summer vegetables, I signed up. Maybe I had just tired of perusing vegetable options at our local market, but suddenly the idea of someone making a few decisions for me held great appeal. Every two weeks we pick up the bounty at a local drop off point in town (a local winery—useful should you need a quick tipple) and I gleefully rip open the box to see what's in store. Here's a recent offering:
Photographs by Sarah Lonsdale.
Above: I immediately check the offerings when I open up the box and compile a mental menu for the upcoming week. When I find myself stumped by a vegetable, I type it in to one of my favorite food blogs (101 Cookbooks is my default) and typically find myself with a wealth of new recipes to explore. Adios, recipe rut.
Above: Heirloom dry farm potatoes, kale, chard, lettuce, parsley, and thyme. I never used to buy lettuce in the winter months as I always thought it was out of season. I was wrong, it's California.
Above: The offerings from Broomfield Farms. I pay around $30 for a box that lasts two weeks. Contrary to what I originally thought, there has been no waste as I find myself creatively finding ways to use everything. (Except once when I just could not get excited about the wilting bok choy in the fridge - it went to compost). Check Local Harvest to locate a CSA in your area.
CSA yes or no? We'd love to hear your thoughts below and check out Michelle's CSA Musings on the matter.
Here's an idea that will have you reconsider how your store your veggies: A Refrigerator Free Kitchen.