This year, we decided to join a CSA, a community sustained agriculture, group. We paid ahead and agreed to pick up our allotted produce once each week, beginning in early June. The produce was organic and came straight from the farm that day. We’ve had herbs such as cilantro, dill, basil, and garlic; fruit such as strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, muskmelon, and apples; vegetables such as radishes, onions, leeks, lettuce, carrots, spinach, peas, scapes, chard, kohlrabi, beets, broccoli, cabbage, different types of potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, sweet peppers, celery, tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, different greens, and edamame; and pumpkins and flowers.
I’d never had fresh herbs other than garlic and dill before so I had to learn how to use them which meant looking for new recipes. What did we do before the internet and search engines? I made a pesto with the basil which was really yummy on homemade bread fresh out of the oven. I tried a pickle recipe with the dill. My family wasn’t a fan of the cilantro so I must not have used it correctly because I have friends who just love fresh cilantro. Perhaps I used too much since they complained it was too strong. The websites said that I had to use it up within a certain time, and I just hate wasting anything, though I did follow the recipes.
My family was familiar with all of the fruits, but I still tried a new recipe—rhubarb sauce. We tried it on ice cream and in vanilla or plain yogurt.
Scapes, chard, summer squash, eggplant, butternut squash, fresh sweet potatoes, and edamame were all new to my family. They liked the chard in salads, but weren’t fond of the cooked chard. My husband liked the edamame so he had to eat most of that. I really liked the eggplant and tried two new recipes with it. Of course, I was the only big fan of that so people started getting testy when it came up on the menu again. The butternut squash soup was tasty, as were the sweet potato hash browns and candied sweet potatoes. Before this, I’d only used sweet potatoes from a can.
Like I said, I don’t like wasting anything so if it was in our weekly allotment, we were going to eat it. Sometimes I felt stressed trying to figure out what to do with a certain vegetable or herb, especially if there was quite a bit of it; but overall, it was a pleasant experience. We enjoyed trying new things—well, my husband and I did, the kids were sometimes suspicious—and having such a variety. When certain items are in season, a family tends to see that on the table a lot—such as green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. When the season is done though, it is done, and something new takes its place.
I’d like to think we’re healthier for it. It was a pleasant adventure. Have you tried a CSA? Do you enjoy a local farmers’ market?