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A Summer of Plenty

May 31, 2010

Mrs. Fussy is nervous.  And she has good reason.  We may be in over our heads.

For the first time in several years we have joined a CSA.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Local farms solicit members for the season, who essentially buy a share of the farm’s crops.  Every week members get a box of what was harvested that week.  It’s a great way to eat local and seasonal.

Anyhow, we actually joined a few months ago.  I filled out the forms and sent in the check, but I heard nothing.  The paperwork mentioned that our cancelled check would be our receipt.  So I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything.

Still, despite seeing that the check had been cashed, I was not fully convinced we would be getting our weekly parcel of farm fresh vegetables until my local coordinator sent an email last week.

So, why is Mrs. Fussy nervous?

The last time we participated in a CSA was before we had children.  And even then, it was a lot of work.  The box comes in, and one has to do triage.

Which things need to be consumed first?
Which will hold for the better part of the week?
Which things need to have something done to them immediately?

Then there is the scramble to figure out what to do with a head of cabbage that Mrs. Fussy refuses to eat in any form, or the Broccoli Romanesco that is beautiful but looks like it was grown on another planet.

Last go around the CSA share was her responsibility.  And honestly she is very good at stuff like that.  As for me, it is not my strongest suit for several reasons.  Not least of which is that I like to create grand plans for meals based on ingredients on hand without budgeting the time required for cooking them.  The lamb in the freezer was supposed to be in a shepherd’s pie last week.  That never happened.

I also hate washing salad greens.

So I can understand her apprehension, but I am super excited.  What is extra exciting is that I have absolutely no idea what to expect in our weekly share.  I have no real sense about what grows locally and when it is really in season, despite entering my fourth summer in Albany.  Surely this information is readily apparent on the farm’s website and a host of other sources.  But reading the information is always a distant second from learning through direct experience.

Still, I admit there will be challenges.  Now in addition to the added constraints on our time (and meal preparations) that come with having children, we also have to contend with their eating habits.

Young Master Fussy will decline dessert without blinking an eye to avoid eating raw leafy greens.  And while Little Miss Fussy will eat an ungodly amount of haricot vert, if there is the tiniest fragment of broccoli in her fried rice, it is steadfastly rejected.

Regardless if they eat their vegetables I will use this opportunity to teach the kiddos about produce.  I was motivated by the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution episode where he goes into a classroom and asks the students to identify foods in their natural state.  It occurred to me there were a few items my own children might not know, and I found that entirely unacceptable.

Also I hope to be just drowning in basil, which I will make into the best pesto ever.  Provided, of course, I can get the right cheese in Albany.  Although if I can’t, I can always have my mom bring it up from Providence.

That’s my summer plan.  What’s yours?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2010 1:01 pm

    This year I will be biking more, and buying more veggies in general. I will try and buy one veggie a week that looks cool/I haven’t tried before. That is what I enjoyed most about CSAs – the luck of the draw and trying to find something to do with this new food.

    My CSA luck was not so great last year. A bad season to begin with, and at the end I entertained the idea that they were just going to another farm and redistributing them for us. It was odd. My first CSA was great (Fox Creek Farms), but they have become certified organic and a little out of my range. Great people though.

    I figure the biking thing will be good, and Fox Creek Farms basically got me to eat and love veggies in general. Now instead of just eating cabbage (by the way, if you need any help…) I will happily eat garlic scapes, zucchini, summer squash, radishes… So at least I will be loading up and supporting one farm or another.

  2. May 31, 2010 8:29 pm

    I too am giddy about my first CSA delivery. Last year was our first go-around and generally we were thrilled with it. However, our logic may have been a bit different than other folks’, judging by some of the reasons I’ve heard for people not loving their share. From the get-go I accepted that food would be wasted. I am notorious for going to the grocery store and loading up on veggies, just go find myself too busy to cook them before they go bad. As a result, I did not go into the share with a 100% consumption goal. Second, I found the CSA to be a money-saver even with the minor veggie wilting. If the giant box of produce guilted us into staying in and cooking just one night a week when we otherwise would have gone out or ordered in b/c we were tired and hungry, it paid for itself. My goal this year? Waste less and get more creative with the unique stuff in the box. (I agree with Albany Jane, that’s the fun part!)

  3. May 31, 2010 10:07 pm

    My hope (although possibly very unrealistic) is to get the kids excited about each week’s delivery. I’d like to take the kids on a trip to the farm too. I also picked up a half share of eggs (a dozen every other week). I am looking forward to those.

  4. June 1, 2010 12:39 am

    I’m keeping a food journal so that I hold myself accountable regarding the things that go into my mouth! What has worked well for me is to plan out a week’s menus on the night that the CSA is delivered. It’s often a struggle to use it all up but planning definitely helps.

  5. monica permalink
    June 2, 2010 8:36 pm

    first, clean the greens. you can blanch and freeze many to get them out of the way, then add to soup, veggie mix or whatever. the beet roots will keep. or roast them in foil and freeze and later re-roast coated in oil. or make pickled beets.
    slice and grill those excess zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and freeze on a tray to make a vegetable lasagna at a later date.

    basically preserve in the freezer what you don’t eat because your next box will be there before you blink. it took me most of the summer to figure out how to conquer the beast.

  6. June 8, 2010 5:53 pm

    It definitely helps if you have another party to split your share with. We’re divvying things up between my sister’s household and mine and it’s still a large amount of vegetables. We found last year that weekly potlucks with 5-10 friends were a great way to enjoy everything and minimize waste.

    I agree with the advice to blanch and/or freeze whenever possible. It also cuts down on the volume of everything, making storage easier.

    On a Roxbury-specific note, Daniel, you must save your newsletters! They’re fantastic. :)

  7. Judy K. permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:04 am

    Some more advice on handling your CSA bounty:
    1. Buy a good quality salad spinner. I too hate washing greens and it has made my life so much easier.
    2. Those cheesy as seen on TV “green bags” really work – I’ve had greens and other produce last a lot longer then usual in them. You aren’t supposed to wash the produce before storing if you use them, so that helps on a day when you don’t have the time to wash everything at once.
    3. As soon as you get home, turn on the oven to 250 degrees. Wash some greens (kale, turnip greens, etc.), dry them reasonably well (spinner!), drizzle with olive oil and rub it all over them, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet or two. Sprinkle with salt and bake 30 minutes or until they are crisp. By this time, you will need a break from washing/blanching/freezing, so eat them while they’re hot! They are addictive.

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