Tag Archives: seasonal produce

CSA

5 Oct

The first fall CSA box was ready this week.  What a wonderful fall bounty to kick off the fall farm season! It is time to continue making comfort food, switching from summer light and airy salads to more chowders and hearty pasta sauces.  And my fall CSA is feeding directly into that.  What is a CSA you say?  Well only the best thing since sliced bread!  If you aren’t involved with a CSA, now is time to get involved.

A CSA is a way to support a local farm that participates in Consumer Supported Agriculture.  Participating in a CSA is a fantastic way to become engaged with local farms. Supporting local organizations through attending and purchasing from local farmers markets is a wonderful connect to the community, and participating in a CSA is an extension of that support.

The farm that I support with the CSA program offers either a half or whole share per season, and there is a financial commitment.  You pay for your seasonal share ahead of time.  The amount of produce in the share is the difference in size.  Fall is very busy for my family, so this fall I opted for a half share.  What does that mean?

A share is a portion of local produce that the farm is seasonally harvesting.  With a CSA, the member goes to the farm or designated community location once a week to pick up their share of fresh produce.  The produce is fresh, local, and intended to be used within a few days.  By the time the produce is used, its time to go back to the farm for another share.

This week, my share included cucumbers, turnips, potatoes, an acorn squash, corn on the cob, and the bonus of a late season watermelon.   Last night, I used the potatoes and turnips to make a potato turnip gratin.  My children had not ever had turnips before, and making a warm hearty potato dish with turnips added was a great way to introduce the vegetable to them (for the record, the boys loved it, my daughter not so much…).

I used the cucumbers to make some refreshing cucumber water to keep in the fridge.  With the acorn squash, I simply cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and baked it in a 400 degree oven.  I put a little butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in the center before baking.  Easy and delicious.  I served it along side a baked chicken.  It is fun to be creative with the ingredients.

I can’t wait to see what is in my CSA share this week.  I pick my share up on the actual farm that grows and harvests the produce.  Leaving my office during a busy day, driving 10-15 minutes down the road to the farm, and having a chance to talk to the farmers while getting my share is something I look forward to all week.  My family is excited to see what I bring home, and we have a blast with the ingredients.  Best of all, I get a chance to support local farmers and have fresh, healthy seasonal produce.

If I am delayed and don’t make it to the farm one week to retrieve my share, it is donated to the local community food pantry or food bank.  Look for a CSA in your community and let me know what you come up with!

My CSA share this week.  I am having a blast experimenting.

My CSA share this week. I am having a blast experimenting.

Sweet fragrant and decadent  late season watermelon was a bonus this week with my CSA share.

Sweet fragrant and decadent late season watermelon was a bonus this week with my CSA share.

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Eat seasonally!

18 Apr

Try something new. Make a commitment to eat seasonally available foods. Eating seasonally means eating food, but mainly produce, that is in season. With our world wide market place, working farms, and food engineering, many foods are readily available all year long, such as apples, potatoes, and bananas. There are other items though, that are seasonal as well as regional. And they are worth waiting for.

Tomatoes, for example, are a summer fruit. We see them all year in the grocery, glossy and red. But they aren’t always the naturally ripe tomatoes of summer. When tomatoes ripen on the vine, the starch changes to sugar, the color changes from green to red, and the flavor peaks. Unfortunately, many tomatoes are now picked green and “gassed” or “sprayed” with a colorless gas to force ripening on their way to the grocery store. The gas stimulates the enzymes in a tomato to begin the ripening process. The cost of this process as far as flavor goes is huge in my opinion. The tomato is red, but the flavor, for me, falls a bit flat. So I usually wait to enjoy fresh tomatoes only in the summer months.

Variety, as you know, is an important part of healthy eating. And variation in the diet certainly contributes to food enjoyment as well. We all get in a rut and tend to get stuck once in a while. That is when it is time to open a cookbook, buy a new food magazine to flip through, and stroll through a local farmers market for inspiration.

Heading to a local farmers market will help you eat more seasonally,t thus enjoying a more flavorful product. The quality of food available in a farmers market or at a farm stand is fantastic. And the variety is fresh, crisp, and imperfectly lovely. It is also wonderful to get to know local growers.

I have enjoyed local honey, locally made cheese, local meats, and of course, local produce. All from my local farmers market, fresh, in season, and a wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of the season. The variety is outstanding, and it is a great way to get inspired to try something new.  It is also important to support your local community members.  Visiting and purchasing items from a local market puts money back into the local economy.  So important!  And strolling through a local farmers market, coffee in hand, is a great way to spend an early Saturday morning!

Flowers are also great at farmers markets and local farm stands. There is just something happy about a pretty vase with flowers gracing a table. Don’t wait for a special occasion to treat yourself to blooms and blossoms. Surround yourself with beautiful fresh produce and some lovely flowers. Spring is the perfect time to get into a new habit of hitting a couple of farmers markets on a regular basis. You will love the new freshness it will bring!