Monday, March 9, 2009

CSA Time

I haven't talked as much about my CSA as I expected, and that is too bad because it is the best thing that has happened to my kitchen since wedding gifts. I really could go on an on about it, so I will. I bring it up because CSA's are taking new members right now, and the best ones will be full soon. We just renewed for this summer and I would hate to be the only one geekily gushing about gorgeous tomatoes for the next six months.

The most obvious reason to join is the quality of the produce. You might or might not care about the ethics of buying local, or believe that pesticides are any worse for you than the chlorine in the tap water, but when it comes down to taste (the only thing that might convince my father), this stuff is the real deal. Those carrots above taste more carroty than a carrot. And they are really really orange. They are gorgeous. I still can't believe I'm using words like that for vegetables. But really, they are striking, and because I hope you think so too, I will share a good number of the thirty pictures I took of them throughout this post.

Common objections to joining a CSA - you have to pay upfront, and all at once it's a big chunk of change. I maintain that the CSA is cheaper in the long run than going to the Farmer's Market every week and picking things out individually. In fact, for some reason, the $18 a week that the cost of the CSA breaks down to has somehow ended up dropping our grocery bill by about $30-$40 a week. We're eating much better for less. Of course there is no getting around the fact that organic and local will always be a bit more expensive than produce at Wal-Mart. I am encouraged though, that by cutting costs in other ways (less meat, more lentils) we can still afford the higher-quality, more nutrient dense produce (do I sound like Marianne or what? I basically just stole that from her blog). Another complaint leveled against CSA's is the lack of choice and variety. You get a bag of whatever the farmer has ready that week. I, for one, get easily overwhelmed if I have too many choices so this actually works out better for me. I love having a place to start when I begin menu planning each week. It's kind of like putting together a puzzle (I rely heavily on for this) trying to figure out what you can make with cauliflower, nasturtium blossoms, and the half tub of creme fraiche sitting in the fridge. You might get turnips three weeks in a row, but really there are a hundred different ways to fix them. I think we were stuck in a deeper rut pre-CSA, now we've tried vegetables we never even knew existed, much less would have picked out if we had a choice. We discovered we love rutabagas, a funny little root that we had never heard of six months ago!I glossed over it above, but to me the most significant reasons to join a CSA are political/ethical ones that I am very ill equipped to summarize. They have to do with the true cost of food vs. government subsidized food, it has to do with community and the commitment you make to the farmer who is (loosely) your neighbor. You're in it together - if his crop fails you don't get your food. You share the burden. But now my dad has stopped reading because he just wants to know where he can get the tastiest, cheapest steak. Which, actually, is probably through some kind of local buying club. And buying clubs are often attached to CSA's so...

If I sold you but you don't know where to sign up punch in your zip code here.


Marianne Elixir said...

Yea for CSA! Yes, the taste of those carrots would convert anyone. That's what won over my husband.

I hope we can swing getting signed up for this year before they all fill up here in granola capital.

LOVE LOVE LOVE your foodie posts.

Valerie said...

I like the fact that you managed to sneak carrots into those pictures of your cute little spices.

meg said...

thanks for the reminder. I looked into it in December and totally spaced it until now. I can't wait to sign up.

Dad said...

Am I that easy a target? :)

I actually punched in my zip code! Your mother would be so proud!