Why I Joined a CSA
Recently I noticed that I was in a grocery store rut. I was buying the same foods week in, week out, and the carrots,broccoli and kale that I was getting weren’t as exciting me as they used to. Food shopping was becoming one of my least favorite mommy chores. I was bored and I needed a way to get myself interested in food again. So, I was really excited when I discovered that one of the farms in my area organized an annual CSA.
In case you're not familiar with this type of a program, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In this type of program families are given the opportunity to buy a “share” of a local farm and receive a bag or box of fruits and/or vegetables that are picked fresh each week. CSA programs in New York typically run from June until September. By purchasing shares, families are able to support small local farms, which are more likely to practice humane, sustainable and organic practices, than large industrialized farms. As always, healthier food practices mean a healthier family, so of course I was ready to give this program a try. CSAs also give families the the opportunity to meet their farmer and learn how their food is produced, which helps them to gain a deeper appreciation for nature and for all of the work that goes into growing their food, as well as, to ensure that the food is being grown in a way that they are comfortable with.
What I really enjoyed, and what I needed at this time, was the opportunity to try something new. My family joined the CSA at Hemlock Hill Farm in Courtland, NY and we have really enjoyed the educational and tasty experience. It is exciting to pick up our vegetable share each week not knowing what we are going to get. The box of surprise produce has been a fun challenge to get me learn how to cook new foods each week.
In my first vegetable share, I received a bunch of mustard greens. I had heard a lot about the amazing benefits of mustard greens such as the fact that they are a nutrient packed, cancer preventing, cholesterol reducing, blood alkalizing superfood, but what I hadn’t learned yet was how to prepare them. They looks like any other standard green leafy vegetable that you would put in a salad so that is exactly what I did. I made a large salad with mustard greens, topped with veggies, nuts and drizzled with apple cider vinegar. With the first bite I had realized what a huge mistake I had made. Mustard greens are crazy spicy! My whole mouth and nasal passages were on fire! You would think that I would be upset, but instead I was super intrigued. I learned that cooking the mustard greens would cut down on their heat factor. We also enjoyed using small amounts in our fresh pressed juices and to give our salads a little kick. I was curious to find out what else would I discover in my box of produce. My spark was back and I was looking forward to the push to discover new foods.
I love taking my daughter to the farm, to watch people working the land, to see what broccoli actually looks like as it is coming out of the ground, and to meet the people who still believe in growing food the natural way, free from harsh pesticides, herbicides and GMO products. I love being a part of a program that benefits the community and brings a little adventure into my kitchen each week. Farm fresh seasonal produce is a benefit to my family’s health, an act of social responsibility and a tasty treat to be enjoyed throughout the summer. We are over a month into this program and we are enjoying every moment. I highly recommend that you give it a try.
Are you a part of a CSA in your area? What has been your experience with the program?