By Ashley Rood
I’m a veggie addict. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes are what got me hooked. A weekly box of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits purchased directly from your farmer–decision free. Does it get any better than that?
You don’t have to chart out a meal plan before going to the market to avoid farmers’ market syndrome (farmers market syndrome: the tendency to either a. buy everything in sight until you’re out of cash; or, b: be so overwhelmed you come home with a bag of dates and bunch of beets, requiring a follow up trip to the grocery store to make an actual meal).
You get pushed out of your ruts: what is that green cauliflower on an acid trip? Romanesco? You try this fractalized cauliflower because how could ever let a CSA veggie go bad? (oh yeah, it happens, and you feel awful. CSA guilt runs deeper than your regular fridge cleaning guilt).
You get creative: two ways to cook cabbage? That’s not going to cut it through a winter CSA. Turns out there are a ridiculous number of ways and types of cabbage that will keep you creative through those long winter nights.
You get connected. To a farm. Don’t you love those newsletter stories and recipes that come with your box? And, if you’re lucky, you get connected to your CSA community in the city.
I was off the CSA sauce for a couple of years. I sowed my wild oats at the markets, going from farm to farm stand, finding my favorite carrots here and the best beets there. Meeting new farmers along the way. And it was good. But, I was getting back into some veggie buying ruts again. Sure, I’d throw in a kabocha squash or yellow cauliflower to mix things up, but really, who was I kidding, it was all greens, broccoli and sweet potatoes. And turnips? I totally forgot about you. Then, before you knew it, I was buying most of my produce at the local co-op. Luckily, this is a great option, I can buy a lot of local, but I can also buy a lot from Mexico and South America.
I decided it was time to give a CSA a go again–a trial 4 week box spread over 8 weeks, split with a friend. How much more non-committal could I get? Totally against my old, hard core (read: self righteous) credo of supporting a CSA for the full season, but CSA’s take many forms and shapes these days. This path allows me to have it all–I can still make those frequent stops at the farmers market and get my CSA fix in despite of being a cook for (mostly) one.
Today, I dug in my veggie crisper newly filled with my CSA booty and found turnips. You’ll be surprised to hear, I shuddered. I felt forced to cook something outside of my repertoire. Ugh! Turnips. What do I do with them?? I took a deep breath. I washed them, I cut them into large pieces. I put them into a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, salted, peppered and thymed them and set them to roasting. What did I find just a short 20 minutes later? Caramelized, delicately sweet, golden goodness. They were so good, I forgot to take a photo.
I’m thankful for my CSA reprieve–it gave me the freedom relax a bit, explore and have fun–I may not be a devout CSA lifer–but it sure is a good to be back again for now.
This article was published previously on Ashley’s Blog: From the Root to the Fruit.
To purchase a CSA share in your community check out Pick-a-Pepper.com
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