10 Lessons I Learned From My CSA Share

10 Lessons I Learned From My CSA Share

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Landis Carey
Dec 18, 2014
(Image credit: Landis Carey)

Our decision to join a CSA this year was mostly spontaneous after hearing tales from friends of plump organic tomatoes and sugar sweet strawberries. We were due with a baby in early April and a summer spent at home, enjoying healthy, farm fresh vegetables with our growing family sounded perfect! It was a creative and transformative adventure that we plan on taking again next year.

What I learned this season, during our farm share with Honey Brook Organic Farm, is that being a member of a CSA is a commitment that's marvelous, fun, and overwhelming! Each week there are pounds of healthy, local, organic produce coming in your door (that's the marvelous part) and you get to be creative and industrious in the kitchen processing it all into healthy meals (that's the fun, yet often overwhelming part).
Below are are a few of the specific lessons that I learned from this transformative experience as well as a few of my favorite photographs.
(Image credit: Landis Carey)
  1. Heads of lettuce trump their boxed counterpart! They do, there's no debate, and there's no way to unlearn this discovery. Confession: I've always been a bit of a lazy salad-maker, buying boxed lettuces so I could avoid the washing process. But now that I've eaten farm-fresh, flavorful greens for months, I'm reformed (and mostly yucked out at the thought of what bacteria could be floating around those boxed containers).
  2. A salad spinner is a must-have if you eat fresh greens every day. At the beginning of the CSA season, our farm sent out a helpful how-to guide that suggested using a salad spinner to manage all the fresh greens that would be distributed on a weekly basis. We bought this one from OXO and it was PERFECT! All season long we cleaned large batches of lettuce and stored them inside the spinner so we could grab a few handfuls with each meal. The spinner kept them crunchy and fresh!
  3. The fresher the vegetable, the less preparation it needs. Plain and simple. The perfect example: Hakurei turnips. If you see them at the farmers' market, buy them, slice them, and snack on them raw.
  4. I love broccoli soup and pickled green beans.
  5. Signing up for a CSA is an excellent way to discover new recipes, new cookbooks, and favorite new vegetables
  6. Farm-fresh vegetables are more flavorful than their grocery-store counterparts.
  7. The question of what's for dinner is no longer based on preference, but rather on supply. It can be a tough lesson, I understand. But when you have 11 pounds of tomatoes and you're craving winter squash, you eat tomatoes.
  8. Grocery store vegetables are squeaky clean! This was mostly true for our farm veggies, as well, but there were a few things — sweet potatoes and yellow onions — that arrived straight from the soil, with soil still crusting their outsides.
  9. Being a member of a CSA is a time commitment, and requires spending time in the kitchen. So, my advice is to pick the share size that's best for you and your cooking habits. If you prefer a half-share and they aren't available at your farm, find a friend who can split the bounty with you because the last thing you want is for food to go to waste or to be overwhelmed!
  10. There's nothing more fun than picking strawberries with your toddler at your CSA farm!
(Image credit: Landis Carey)

Have you ever been a member of a CSA? What was your biggest takeaway?

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