Boxy lady.

Check out the box.

What? Not attractive? Why are you dissing my box? What has my box ever done to you?

CSA box 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.”

GreensReally, 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.

12 thoughts on “Boxy lady.

  1. I’ve been wanting to jump on the CSA bandwagon for some time, but the closest one around is an hour and a half away, so this year I’ve settled on a garden of my own. I have more tomatoes growing on those stalks than I could eat in two years. Got any good spaghetti sauce recipes handy? Canning, here we come! lol…

  2. I tired to find a CSA and everyone that was convenient for my pick up needs was sold out. I was bummed. Next year I will have to try much earlier, I guess.

  3. This is my second year as a CSA shareholder and it’s a fun challenge to figure out what to do with everything in your box, week after week. And it’s a great pleasure to know that the veggies in my box were picked right from the ground only the day before.

  4. Oh I swear I have those same thoughts…including the cookies and the flour and then when it does rain I worry about it raining too much and washing out all the plants they just transplanted and…and…oh!!!!

    Actually it is the abundance that seems to do more people in than anything else. They get a new box of veg every week and they don’t do anything with it and then they end up throwing out rotten veg…we always either eat it or store it before the next box.

    Great post.

  5. Sounds like a right box of treats. I’m still trying to convince my hubby of the benefits to signing up to an organic British farm veggie delivery service…

  6. Jesska: I have a garden too. I think I’m overdoing it, heh. As for sauce recipes, I prefer to just eat them fresh with basil. Mmnnn.

    Kate: I feel lucky that we have one at all, but I bet it will get harder to sign up next year.

    J.Noelle: It’s great! I just had the best beets ever, and I never cared for beets before.

    Vanessa: The abundance is work, so is the prepping! But so far I’ve managed not to waste anything.

    Mallika: I hope you do it! Then we can suffer through the guilt together, lol.

  7. The sense of connection to your farmer is the best thing about being part of a CSA. Yes, you worry when it doesn’t rain, but you also share the joy when the harvest is bountiful. Our CSA works a bit differently — you can choose whatever you wish, including baked goods and happy meat, up to the dollar amount of your weekly share. Very flexible!

  8. I SOSOSO want to join a CSA…but you see, I’m a bit of a control freak and not knowing what I’m going to get is certainly going to cause an ulcer.

  9. I sat on the fence too long to join a CSA this year, but I’m definitely joining one next year. As it is, I get most of my produce at the farmer’s market, but I think it’s that special relationship you have with your CSA farmer and the farm that makes CSAs so rewarding. Not to mention the weekly surprise–Christmas in July!

  10. All you bloggers and your CSAs! (I’m a blogger too but no CSA- yet.) I’m getting really tempted, but I live within a 7 minute walk of a farmer’s market… Maybe next summer. I’m also not sure of how to handle the SURPRISE! You LIKE arugala, right? umm… well… err… I guess I’ll learn to like it? aspect of CSA. Still though, who doesn’t like birthdays every week? Or is it month. Anyway, yes, I’m tempted. And where are those braised radishes again, pizza lady? ;)


  11. I too am a CSA member with Gathering Together Farm here in Philomath Oregon, which the farm is just up the street from my house. It is so wonderful to go to pick up the precious box that the workers so carefully selected the best of their bounty just for you. It is an honor to have all that wonderful produce available. You know exactly how it is grown, how long since it was in the field and most off all…it allows me to try differant veggies and fruits that I would not otherwise try. There have been a few things that I was hesitant to try, but once I did…now they are welcomed in my diet. Pea tops, who would have ever thought that they were so wonderful…best in my salads and a great snack to nibble on. I just love my CSA…and am very greatful to have the opportunity to be a member.

  12. Lydia: Wow, your CSA sounds incredible. I hope they become so popular that such choices become more available. My CSA farmers do raise pastured chickens, so I’ve been buying those separately too. Delicious!

    steamy kitchen: Yep, I can understand the stress. Also, I find I shop the farmer’s market less, and I miss that.

    Lisa: I declined to join last year but decided to take the plunge this year. It’s definitely an adventure.

    seamaiden: I also live within a 10-minute walk of my farmer’s market. Unfortunately, most of it isn’t organic, so I felt the CSA was worthwhile. As for the radishes, sorry! I ate ’em. :p

    Randi: You’re so lucky that you’re close to the farm! My CSA farm is quite a long drive out. I had pea sprouts once—delightful!

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