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The Diet vs The CSA

November 2, 2017

I’m drowning in cabbage. But I love cabbage, so that’s not entirely a bad thing. Fortunately, the point of cabbage is that it keeps. Winter storage crops are amazing, and we grow some mighty fine versions of these vegetables in New York. I’m thrilled by the abundance we get in our share from Roxbury Farm every other week.

Yes, we share our share. The CSA program is every week, but for the past few years the Fussy Family has split the share with a partner. That means instead of getting fresh vegetables from the farm every week, we leap frog with the other family, so we each get a pick up every other week.

Even still, that’s a lot of vegetables to go through every two weeks. Even with a family of four. What’s making matters more difficult these days is my current diet, which is funny because part of the new cruelty is all about eating more vegetables.

Let me give you a little peek under the hood of the madness du jour.

Later today I’m going out to what I expect will be an incredible feast of Szechuan food, swimming in chili oil, with mounds of white rice and noodles to help absorb some of the fiery peppers of the cuisine. Meats will be fatty. Some foods might be fried. And they are all part of the diet.

It’s not so much that today is a cheat day, but when you write about food, sometimes duty calls. So the point of the diet is to help neutralize days like today. That means when I eat at home, I need to be extra virtuous.

Fortunately Michael Pollan is a beacon of food virtue and I follow his guidance:
1) Eat food
2) Not too much
3) Mostly plants

A lot of the FLB is about exposing foods that look like food, but in reality are just a shadow of the food they claim to be. Bread today is mostly a quick-setting wheat paste. Yogurt and cereal are almost indistinguishable from candy. Juice is pretty much just like soda. Real versions of these foods are on the diet. The mass market fakers need not apply.

More than anything, it’s the “not too much” mantra that has been driving the success of my weight loss. Portion control is huge. And I have to admit, the first couple weeks and months of keeping an eye on portions was difficult. But now that I’ve learned to take smaller portions, eat smaller bites, chew my food thoroughly, put down my fork in between bites, drink water with my meals, and slow down the eating process; when I’m done with my first small plate my hunger is gone. Then I stop eating.

Snacks only happen if I’m actually hungry. Sometimes I’ll head to the kitchen cabinet, grab a small handful of raw cashews, and realize I’m not actually hungry. Sometimes I’m just stressed. Sometimes it turns out I’m actually thirsty, and I misread the cue as hunger. Sometimes I might just want the taste of cashews, or am reaching for them out of boredom or habit. But if I come to the conclusion that I’m not actually hungry, I’ll put the food back.

I know this is working when the “mostly plants” that I get from the CSA start backing up in the refrigerator. Because these days I’m just eating less. Which means the braising greens that get sautéed with anchovy, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil, and are tossed into a pound of whole grain pasta take days to eat.

A quarter head of lettuce, with a slice of real toast spread with a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley spread, now makes a totally satisfying dinner. There are some walnuts and anchovies pureed into the parsley, and a healthy pour of olive oil over the greens.

But the downside to moderation is that the mountain of vegetables never seems to get any smaller. Of course, part of this is that it’s still hard to get the kids to eat lots of vegetables. And the other part has to do with the number of meals we are eating out these days.

Still, every time I open the refrigerator, I see the eggplant I bought that’s withering on the bottom shelf. And every time I flagellate myself for not putting it on the grill to make a batch of baba ganoush. It wasn’t even part of the CSA. It was a purchase from Trader Joe’s.

The big trick is trying to manage and minimize food waste. It’s an issue I take very seriously, and the challenge is figuring out how much fresh food to bring into the house when the biggest eater cuts back on his consumption.

Thankfully, we are at the point of the year when the CSA is supplying winter storage crops. Even though I’m still not done with the slaw I made for the bar mitzvah, I just got a new red cabbage this week. For those concerned, the cabbage is still crisp, and the slaw is still delicious.

Soon, the CSA will come to a close for the year and we’ll enter bean season. The Fussy kids are really looking forward to getting some of their favorite meals back on the menu. But first we need to clear out some room in the fridge.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    November 2, 2017 11:27 am

    “Quick-setting wheat paste”! An amazing turn of phrase — well done, Sir.

  2. Gabby permalink
    November 2, 2017 4:34 pm

    Daniel, what a blessing to have too much food. Can you find someone who needs it to give it to? Hell, you can leave it with me and I’ll find a home for it, if I can’t eat it myself. I’m turning into the Anti-Food-Waste Avenger these days.

  3. February 16, 2018 1:29 am

    “the challenge is figuring out how much fresh food to bring into the house” – I hear that! I receive a weekly CSA box, but live alone and it can be hard not to waste food. Have you found any solutions you like? Do you freeze or can things? Would love any tips! :)

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