Have I mentioned how much I love my CSA?


If you’ve contemplated joining a CSA, I highly recommend it.

Several years ago, we decided to join a CSA. I looked around at the different farms in the area who offered weekly boxes, and settled on Tierra Vegetables based on two factors: 1) they grow everything they sell (some farms supplement with produce from other farms, not necessarily in the area); and 2) they give a good description for each item, several ideas for how to prepare them, and a couple more extensive recipes that use several of the items together.

We’ve stayed with them all these years, again based on two factors: 1) their produce is wonderful; and 2) they have become our friends. I only wish I could afford to buy more produce from them when I go in each week.

I love how when I pull up to the farm each week, I can see the different stages of development for the produce I will be eating soon. I like to think of it as “visiting my food.” And it really is. The leafy green plants you see in the picture below is the cardoon that will be showing up in our boxes in a couple of weeks. I can hardly wait! If you’ve never had cardoon, I highly recommend giving it a try. Especially if you like artichokes. When we get some in our box, I’ll be sure to post pictures of how to prepare it.

Cardoon

Don’t be put off by the weird vegetables — a good CSA will help you learn how to love them. They also eat what they grow, and will have an extensive recipe collection.

Tierra has planted Naked Ladies along their fence line, and in the late summer visitors are greeted by a wall of beautiful pink flowers. Naked Ladies are an unusual type of Amaryllis in that it flowers in the late summer, when there are no leaves. Which is is why they are referred as naked. Instead, the leaves come out in the winter, when it is moist, and soak up energy to store until it’s time to bloom.

Naked Ladies: dressed for winter

Since joining the CSA, I have become adapted to eating produce by the seasons. It wouldn’t even occur to me want a tomato in the winter. That sounds about as appealing as eating a piece of cardboard. Instead, I have gained an appreciation for eating and enjoying the different vegetables as they come into season.

Brussels Sprouts

These just picked Brussels sprouts are so tender and delicious, it’s a shame that people think they don’t like them and automatically turn their noses up at them.

Leeks. Or as we like to call them "Winter Onions."

We finally got our first leeks this winter. I always look forward to them. They’re so easy to use, and they have such a deliciously mild onion flavor. I like to just cut them, rinse them, and sauté them in butter or bacon fat, and then mix them in with mashed potatoes.

A small sample of Tierra's selection of heirloom beans.

In addition to growing vegetables, Tierra grows a large selection of heirloom beans, and a wide variety of peppers. You might have seen them on tv a while back: Emeril Green: Feel The Heat.

Also, don’t be put off by the up-front cost. Although most CSAs prefer their clients buy a yearly share, many also offer a monthly rate because they understand that not everyone’s budget can afford to buy in at one time. And even if you can’t swing the monthly rate, it’s well worth the cost and effort to shop at their farm stand regularly. Produce that was just picked that morning will last a whole lot longer than anything you can buy at the supermarket.

When we joined, the annual cost seemed daunting, but when I did the math and figured out the weekly breakdown, it was only about $17 a box. That’s really quite affordable. If you were to go to the local supermarket and price out the same items (remember, they’re organic which usually costs more at the store), you’d pay almost twice that much.

This week’s “box” from Tierra Vegetables:

Vegetables - Jan 28 2011

A spaghetti squash, three lovely leeks, an enormous yellow onion, a large red cabbage, two pounds of fingerling potatoes, a bag of Brussels sprouts, and a packet of enchilada spices. Stay tuned to see what I make of all this!

What are you eating these day?

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11 thoughts on “Have I mentioned how much I love my CSA?

  1. I love Brussels sprouts! I splurge sometimes and cook a whole bag just for myself. I bought some fresh from Winn-Dixie last year when they were in season and, drooling all over myself, rushed home to cook them since I’d read they’re even better fresh. What a let-down. They were bitter. Either I don’t know how to cook them properly or perhaps the Winn-Dixie produce (as happens too often) was not quite up to CSA standards. What did I do wrong?
    Love ya!
    Mom

    Like

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