I finally signed up for a CSA Box (I chose Eli’s Farms). For those that are unfamiliar, a Community Supported Agriculture Box is a box full of fresh produce (and even eggs and meat if you’d like) from a local farm. Often, as in the case of the CSA farm that I chose, the produce is organic.
I had a few motivations for finally signing up for a CSA box after talking about it for so long.
- I want to support local organic farms. San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the US! Yet, I often purchase my produce from Costco or Trader Joes. I try to buy organic, but sometimes at Costco the food we like to purchase in bulk to keep costs down (we eat A LOT!) isn’t organic and definitely isn’t local.
- I’m getting bored of my usual fruits and veggies. The contents of your CSA box changes week to week, and even more so, season to season. You won’t be getting butternut squash in the Spring or strawberries in the Fall. Since switching to a mostly plant based diet over 2 years ago, I’ve learned to enjoy a wider variety of veggies, but I find myself buying the same ones over and over (and cooking a lot of the same recipes). Since starting up with the CSA box I’ve experimented with new recipes with ingredients I probably wouldn’t have picked on my own.
- It’s convenient. Depending on which farm you use, you either will have to pick your CSA box up from a farmer’s market or designated pick-up area, or you can have it delivered. I chose to have ours delivered for a fee of $5 per box. Every other Wednesday, I come home to a big box of produce! Even better, Eli’s Farms sends an email earlier in the week with the contents of your box so that you can plan meals in advance if you’d like.
I’ve had a lot of fun making new recipes with the ingredients in my CSA. Each of my 3 shipments has been different in some ways, but in general they are fairly similar. I’m sure once we enter a new season they will change again. For now, I’ve been getting a lot of zucchini, fresh basil, fresh parsley, eggplant (a couple different varieties), tomatoes (also different varieties each week), oranges, limes or lemons, avocado (one of the best I’ve ever had), and pomegranates.
The first night we got the CSA, Mike and I had planned a date night to make pizza. I had purchased mozzarella for the pizza (something we don’t typically have) and we got a big, juicy heirloom tomato in the box as well as fresh basil. I quickly made us a delicious caprese appetizer. I also added some of the zucchini, basil and tomato from our box to our pizza.
I wasn’t sure at first what to do with the eggplant. I’d only cooked eggplant once before and it wasn’t that great. I also knew you have to salt them in advance to get rid of the bitterness. The little eggplants we got were different than the one I cooked in the past. I googled some vegan eggplant recipes and found this amazing recipe for a Chickpea Ratatouill
My favorite surprise of the CSA box was our last shipment – we received green beans. I’ve always hated green beans. They are soggy and gross and taste like feet! I don’t even like them in that green bean casserole everyone raves about at holiday parties. But we got fresh, organic green beans and I boiled them and then sautéed them in olive oil and garlic and they were DELICIOUS! Seriously amazing! I’m a green bean convert!
Have you heard of CSA boxes? Do you have one? What is the best thing you’ve found in your CSA that you never would have known you like?