Today, I got my first box from Little Tree CSA. For those of you who don’t know, this arrangement means that in exchange for cash monies, every week I get a box, a share from the farm. A box filled with good, yummy things. This box of fresh deliciousness will arrive every Saturday morning at the Dubuque Farmer’s Market until the end of the season (October).
This box contains spinach, lettuce, radish, chicken of the woods mushroom, micro greens, kale, garlic, chives, purplette onions, mint, lemon balm, and wild ginger. I had no idea what they would have this early on, I figured it would be lettuce, radishes, and more radishes. I can’t imagine how much this is going to change over time, because it’s already so much!
What I like about something like this is the way it compels me to eat better, to eat creatively. Organic and localvore issues aside (this fills both roles), what really matters is variety in the diet, to me. If I did not have this box, I would have got the usual produce, half at the supermarket, half at the farmer’s market, half from my own garden. I’d go for the old standbys. Now, microgreens? What will I do with those? How about the kale? I could use more of that green and leafy in my life. Chicken mushrooms? It looks fantastic! Things I would not go out of my way to eat, I will be eating now. Think of how good that is for my diet. Not only does it increase my exposure to healthy food, by granting me access to it, it increases the nutritional value of my diet. You can’t help but ensure a greater variety of nutrients when you have a greater variety of fresh food.
What am I snacking on right now? Microgreens. Until 30 seconds ago, never ate it in my life. Considering that I would normally poke around the kitchen for processed crap, this is a massive improvement. This really ups my veg intake a lot, investing in a CSA like this.
CSAs don’t come cheap, mind you. I’m paying $500, broken up over the months, for the boxes, which is about $25 a week. Well worth it, but there is an upfront cost. However, for fresh, local, organic food, it is a huge savings. I got far more than I would have had I gone and bought each bit individually. Some CSAs offer (or require) some work in exchange for the share, too. It depends on which one you join.
Most of them, like mine, have a newsletter, too. I’ve got recipes that are tailored to what is in this week’s box. And notice how I said “mine” there? It’s how I feel. The CSA concept makes me feel like part of the farm. Like an investor. I mean, that is kind of what it is, but who feels that way when they get stock in a company? Here, I am meeting the people, reading the newsletters, talking to them, getting to know them. It’s something I always loved about the Farmer’s Market, knowing where my food is coming from. But the CSA is even more of a bond, because of the regularity. We’re in this together! They said they were exited giving out the first boxes, and I was excited to get it. MY box, from MY CSA. How often do you think that about what you eat? It’s topped only by eating from my garden.
For information on CSAs, including where to find one near you in the United States, check out this website. It also links to farmer’s markets and other sources of local food.
This is going to be a GREAT summer. I can feel it!
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