Check out the box.
What? Not attractive? Why are you dissing my box? What has my box ever done to you?
I guess I should explain. This was the first box of the year from my organic CSA several weeks ago. I would never have joined a CSA were it not for food blogs. While I’d heard about CSAs, it’s food blogs that persuaded me that joining one would be worth my time. The trouble is that nobody warned me that joining a CSA would start an emotional relationship. I’d read about “eating local,” “getting to know your farmers,” and “knowing where your food comes from.” That much I understood.
But I wish someone had mentioned that “when it doesn’t rain for two straight weeks you stay awake at night worrying about your farmers,” “sometimes the future of your farmers’ two daughters nags at you,” “you’re overcome with urges to bake your farmers cookies were it not for your concern that maybe they eat only organic flour, which you don’t use yet though you’ve been thinking about it, maybe you should ask if they mind non-organic flour but then you’d tip them off to the fact that you plan to bake them something and they’ll protest because they seem like nice people and maybe they don’t let their kids eat sweets anyway,” and “when it finally rains you stare out the window, breath a thankful sigh of relief, and wonder if maybe they wouldn’t prefer cake instead.”
Really, this meeting farmers face-to-face to pick up a box every week is stressful. It’s not even about what’s in my box; I knew when I signed up that I’d deal with possible low yields from drought and strange weather. My stress is about the future of CSAs. As they become more popular and easy to find, I worry that people may sign up without understanding that a CSA is a gamble if you look solely at quantity. There’s no insurance policy here. It’s an investment, half of which pays off by keeping your money close by and supporting a better food system. The delicious food is the other half. So the stress is worthwhile.
Each week has been challenging. I tasted French sorrel for the first time and found that it tastes so sour that I didn’t put acid in the vinaigrette I used to dress it. Thinly sliced radish super-hot from the dry weather tastes fabulous in roast beef sandwiches. A gratin of mixed greens has become my new favorite greens dish. Garlic scape and chive dip keeps vampires away for days. Right now I have a tight head of cabbage and squeaky stalks of broccoli waiting for my knife and inspiration.
I can’t wait to see what comes next. Maybe it will be something I can turn into cookies. On second thought, the investment in a CSA is only 1/3 eating local and 1/3 delicious food. The other 1/3 is the fun of it. It’s a like a mini-birthday every Wednesday as we stand in line for our present. The gift wrap could use some work, but in the end, we all know that it’s the thought that counts.