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Posts tagged ‘CSA’

I’m sorry. I really am!

I ruined strawberries for Chris.

He hasn’t eaten one in three years, thanks to my lazy ways.  I signed us up for the “Extra Fruit Option” with a CSA way back when, and it was WAY too much!  We were getting at least 6 pints of strawberries each week on top of all the other fruits and veggies in box.  As much as I love fruit, that is just too much for one girl who doesn’t know how to can and whose freezer was chock full. Plus, the berries weren’t even that great, so I wasn’t super motivated to maow down.

So the strawberries just sat on the counter and rotted.  Week after week.  I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that that is gross.  And old, gunky strawberries smell really, really disgusting.  Chris is sensitive about food as it is, so this certainly didn’t help.

He’s refused to eat them since.

I stopped eating them for the most part, too, but that was because I was convinced that the fruit isn’t that great.  Really, I didn’t even like strawberries until I moved to California.  Growing up in Vermont, we couldn’t wait to go berry picking at Mazza’s Farm Stand on River Road, but the fruit was never very sweet or red, and they were really tiny.  That’s sort of what these CSA berries were.

U-pick berries at Mazza’s

But last summer, I bought a carton of berries on the corner.  I took them to fellowship to share, and they were awesome.  And I realized how perfect a great strawberry could be- sweet, juicy, vibrantly colored, and perfumed.

Street vendor selling fruit

Strawberries are now a go-to food for me, because on Weight Watchers, they are 0 points.  Hooray!  I eat them for breakfast or for a quick snack when I want something sweet.

I even accidentally introduced my niece to them back in March.  We were buying some at Whole Foods, and I let her hold one in her little hand and munch while I was shopping.  Little did I know that she had never tried one before!  Oops.  It all worked out, though, and she LOVED it!

Last week, Chris said, “I miss strawberries.”  I felt really, really badly and apologized for my past mistake.  I said that he should give them a try again and told him of the fruit I’ve been getting at Zanotto’s down the street.  Their berries are delightful.  My mission for this summer is to make it up to Chris.  Maybe this is a start:

Delish! And pretty too.

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We Bought a Farm

My mom taught me about seasonal vegetables at a young age. One Thanksgiving, when shopping for the big meal, she decided that $7/lb for tomatoes was just too much for our big family. No kidding! Just one slice for all seven of us would total $8. Ouch… With that dent in the weekly grocery budget, it’s easy to tell what’s in season and what’s out.

In California, though, it’s a lot harder. Farms here can grow lettuce year round, and strawberries started up in February (which my niece, Annabel, enjoyed for the first time). At Whole Foods or the local markets, you can buy kale, corn, zucchini, or any other veggie at any time, because it’s imported from Mexico, Latin America, etc…

I’ve been told and have read that you get the most nutritional bang-for-your-buck if you buy produce that has a chance to ripen on the vine, tree, or stem. Logically, then, a fruit picked green in Mexico, pumped with gas to make it ripen, and transported here isn’t as nutritious as something grown closer and more naturally.

Going to the local farmer’s market would solve this issue, but I work during the times when they are running. Because I want to spend my hard earned cash on things that are healthy, I decided several years ago to join a CSA- Community Supported Agriculture; the community buys into the farm and, therefore, gets a share of the season’s produce. It takes the guessing out of what is seasonal and what’s imported! Around here, it’s also a way to get organic stuff at cheaper prices than the grocery store; plus, it’s often delivered to your neighborhood- so no shopping!!

When I first started, I tried Live Earth Farms. The produce was amazing- but way too bountiful! There was no way that I could keep up with the amount that I was getting each week, and, honestly, there were only so many weeks that I was willing to try to figure out how to cook all the new types of veggies. It was exhausting!

After taking a few years off, I started up again with a less daunting CSA, Eating with the Seasons. In this program, I pick which produce I’d like from what’s in season. For me, that’s been fun, because I can plan meals for the week ahead (because I know what’s coming), try a new item every so often, know how to use the rest, and am assured that what I’m getting is local and seasonal.

The extra options- like corn tortillas, local honey, rice, and preserves- make the CSA an even greater treat. With some CSAs, you have to pay in advance, but a lot of these now let you pay monthly. EWTS even lets you order more items and charges you each month for the extra.

Some weeks, things go bad, but that was one of the reasons I bought a juicer. If I know that I’m not going to eat something before it expires, I just stick it in the juicer and- voila!- a healthy snack.

This has taken some of the pressure off of me to grocery shop, because at least I always have some veggies around. Occasionally, I don’t even go to the grocery store, because I just order tons of vegetables. So I’m eating healthy AND saving money. Even in cold weather climates, there are CSAs at your disposal- not all are year round like ours, but many let you buy a share for produce, meat, milk, eggs, bread, and other amazing goodies.

Are you a part of a CSA? What have you found to be the benefits/drawbacks? If you aren’t a part, why not?

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