food healthy life

An Adventure in Freshness: My First CSA Experience

Driven by a deep love for vegetables and  dreams of farm life, I joined a CSA this summer (Community Shared Agriculture). For one monthly payment, I get all sorts of organic goodness once a week.

Being surprised is fun. I love opening the box and discovering what’s been harvested for me that week. Most of it has been utterly delicious! Sweet corn that tastes like candy. Bunches of fresh and fragrant basil. Crunchy green beans – perfect for freezing and quick to thaw for an easy dinner side. Gorgeous heads of lettuce almost too beautiful to eat.

The array of produce has forced creativity in the kitchen – definitely a good thing. It’s also been amazing to see how much can be grown in the Midwest. Yes, apricots and peaches don’t just come from down South! We’ve made basil pesto, strawberry rhubarb jam, apricot preserves, homemade pickles and other goodies.

It also has its drawbacks. Some things, like rhubarb stalks, spoiled before they were used making me feel wasteful. A few cucumbers have been a bit water-logged and hard to work with. It’s also not cheap and some weeks, based on the contents, I’ve questioned whether or not the spend was worth it.

Joining a CSA is probably not the cheapest way to to get your veggie on! But, if you’re up for an adventure, here are some resources to help you get started.

Local Harvest allows you to search for CSAs, Farmer’s Markets, You-Pick Farms and more all by city and state.
The USDA also has local food directories that are easily searchable.
Your local farmer’s market is also the perfect place to find a farm that’s a good fit for you. Many farms that participate in these weekly markets also run CSAs. All you need to do is ask!

Some of my favorite things we made with the weekly hauls of freshness:
Ina’s Basil Pesto with Walnuts
Kale, Strawberry and Avocado Salad (I used the kale in all kinds of salads including this one, which I like to add chicken to. As long as you rub the leaves with some sort of oil-based dressing, it’s just as delicious as any other kind of lettuce green)

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