Last year, when I finally decided that buying a share in a CSA “made sense” based on the way that my family was eating, it was unfortunately too late, at least for that year – the season had ended and Lindsey and Erik were embarking on their yearly Dark Days challenge. So, I used the winter months to research nearby farms that might have a CSA share available come the spring and more importantly, where their drop points were located. While I loved the idea of getting a share and really wanted to make it work, if this endeavor was going to require a significant amount of effort, the organic section of my local supermarket would just have to do.
Luckily one great farm called Hesperides Organica, located in the Black Dirt region of Upstate New York — where one can just scatter seeds lazily about and still be able to come back and reap a large bounty because the soil is that fertile, had a drop point that was only 1 mile away from my house. When I learned I could come as late as 9 PM on drop day to pick up my goodies, I was sold.
Now, almost two full months into this adventure, I have to say there are two things that jump out:
1. The size and shapes of the vegetables. In the photo below you can compare last week’s yellow squash and zucchini to a normal household portable phone. Ridiculous.
While everything in the supermarket is very uniform, our share bounty is anything but. The weirdness of some of the foods we receive, like the super knobby carrots below, is fantastic.
2. The amount of vegetables. Not only do we receive a lot of food every Tuesday night, but the dirt that comes along with all of these items is voluminous as well. We expend a significant amount of effort washing and storing the produce we receive – my sink turns black before the water drains down whenever I’m washing the produce – but that to me is much better than not having to bother with triple washed plastic bagged flash frozen imported from California produce, organic or not. Plus, its that wonderful black dirt that makes everything taste so extra delicious.
Then, for the rest of the week we spend a lot of mental and physical energy trying to use up as much of them as possible before they all rot and/or the next batch of produce arrives. Regarding the pressure to eat what we’ve been given, the NY Times just had an article about this very topic titled “Raw Panic”. In it Julia Moskin writes:
What should be a beautiful and inspiring sight — your kitchen, overflowing with seasonal produce — is sometimes an intimidating tableau of anxiety. The knobbly piles and dirt-caked bunches are overwhelming. Already the peak-ripe multicolored peppers are developing soft spots; the chard is wilting and the race is on.
Considering I have had many pitchers and vases full of parsley, mint and basil strewn about my kitchen for weeks now, I definitely commiserate with the author.
All of that being said, this has been a great experience, one which my family and I are quite enjoying. My kids, both under 5, are learning about the true source of their food and are being healthy and having fun at the same time. I don’t need to trick them or try to sneak these veggies inside of processed chicken nuggets. My kids eat them because they taste good, period (dipping sauces, a.k.a. salad dressing, optional).
Case in point: we went up to the farm a few weeks back for pick your own sugar snap peas day and we all loved every minute of it, especially when we used a old fashioned hand pump to clean up afterwards. It was tons of fun, and cooking and eating the peas later in the weekend with our family was that much more satisfying.
I now look forward to every Tuesday the way office workers look forward to every Friday (which I still look forward to as well being an office worker myself). That being said, its a good thing that Tuesday is still five days away because I have a lot of food to cook, eat and store right now…