Community Supported Agriculture: Fresh, Direct and Delicious

CSAs allow you to try new local produce...like the greens mizuna! Credit: krossbow

CSAs allow you to try new local produce…like mizuna greens! Credit: krossbow

“What the &^%$ Am I Supposed to Do With This?”

Though most CSA fare is similar to what you’d find at the supermarket—greens, root vegetables, local fruits—the seasonal nature and unique varietals make for a weekly surprise. With CSAs, you’re given the crop that is ready for harvest that day—so every week is an adventure! Yes, that means some weeks you’ll open your basket, look at its contents and murmur to yourself, “What the ^$#@ am I supposed to do with this?”
CSA deliveries encourage you to get creative in the kitchen. To maximize your deliveries, follow these tips:

  • Grocery shop after delivery: I always wait for my CSA delivery first, then make my meal plans and hit up the grocery store for the week. Building my weekly meal plan around CSA ingredients ensures that nothing goes to waste, including my money!
  • Embrace creative ingredients: Don’t discount okra just because you didn’t like it that one time you tried it. If you’ve never heard of mizuna, that doesn’t mean it’s gross. CSAs have taught me that everything is delicious—you just have to find the right way to prepare it. Different preparations—raw, roasted, steamed, grilled, sautéed, dehydrated—bring out different flavors within the same ingredient.
  • Expand your recipe repertoire: Use search engines like Foodily, which allow you to type in one ingredient (say, fennel) and discover hundreds of recipes utilizing that ingredient. Foodily allows you to further narrow your recipe search by eliminating recipes with ingredients you don’t want to use. (Also be sure to use our search function at top if there’s a certain ingredient you want to use, too!)
  • Learn some new tricks: I once thought the processes of canning and freezing were for grandmothers and the Amish. But last July, with more tomatoes, onions and peppers in my weekly basket than I could eat in an entire month, I decided to prepare and can my own salsa. I also learned how to freeze sweet corn. Come January, as I served up farm-“fresh” goodness, I realized canning and freezing were some of the best things I ever learned to do in the kitchen.

Are you a member of a CSA? What has been your favorite thing about it? What tips do you have for those considering joining a CSA? —Susan

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1 Comment
  1. Brittany says:

    I can’t say enough about how awesome it is to have fresh produce and to know who’s growing it!
    My best tip would be to invest in a cookbook for CSAs. My favorite is From Asparagus to Zucchini. It lists produce alphabetically and then offers a handful of recipes for each. There are other books too, but I’ve found that to be hugely helpful.
    Also, in my area the weekly CSA works out to be cheaper per week but being a family of two that’s a lot of produce. We split our CSA with our friends and alternate pickup weeks.