Friday, September 16, 2011

Foodie Friday! #1: A CSA Box

[People did comment on my survey long ago that they would like to see some non-beauty posts every once in a while, so I thought I'd start throwing some around.  Posts having to do with the home are cheekily tagged "domestic goddess," as I am far from one, and managing a household - even a two-person household - is a continuous learning process.  Let me know what you think!]

CSA (community-supported agriculture) boxes have been in our lives for a little over a year now, and we really enjoy them and their convenience.  We subscribe to a local organization, and we get a box delivered to our doorstep every Friday.  It's $35 a week for a box that contains enough fruits and veggies to feed two people in that week (appropriately supplemented with proteins and dairy and grains, of course).  All of the food is certified organic, and either comes directly from the farm, or is sourced from other organic farms (it's a good idea to try to eat locally, of course, but sometimes the weather and changing of the seasons just doesn't allow for that).  We originally had another CSA company, but some of the produce was arriving in a less-than-appetizing state, and they were bringing in items from all over the world, even during the heart of summer. Interesting, but not what I really intended - the idea is to support local food.  So we switched, and though this is still a fairly new company for us, I'm happy so far.
A typical box.  There are a bunch of potatoes under the lettuce, as well as a cucumber, and more fruit.

I've never been big on organic food and I wasn't raised that way, but the idea really appeals to me now, especially since purchasing from local farms helps support them in a big way.  We actually started subscribing to a farm service (with doorstep delivery) a year ago because we didn't have a car, and lugging items from the grocery store by bus was not a whole lot of fun, especially in the rain and freezing cold weather.  Besides that, I also had a hard time choosing produce at the grocery store - I felt like I always ended up with the same things, and that can get pretty old.  Plus, a lot of my favorite foods (like leafy greens and berries, for example), can really carry a lot of pesticide residue, which isn't the best thing.  And I was new at this shopping for two business - how much food can two people eat?

Signing up for a box really solved all of those problems.  We got lots of interesting, new produce that we've never tried before, like romanesco.  It's pretty awesome looking.
Looks like it should be an ocean something, right?  Tastes rather like broccoli, though.

We get the two-person-sized box, which we go through in a week almost exactly.  Here's an example of the list of items for a week:

You are able to adjust items the week before you expect your delivery, so that your order is customized for you.  For example, you might get tired of having corn three weeks in a row, so you can substitute that out and put in something else (whatever might be available for substitutions is in the drop-down menu).  There's also a "permanent exemptions" list for items that you never want to receive - our list has beets on it, because neither of us are huge fans.  I appreciate having the list show up the week before, because it allows me to meal plan effectively.  I don't cook (S. is the cook around here - I clean dishes and such), but I plan the meals, because I enjoy looking at food blogs, and he doesn't.  We have a system on Google Docs so we can both access the meal plans at any time.

The box arrives at your door, whether you're home or not, which is so convenient.  They try to put it in an out of the way, cool spot, which I appreciate.  It comes with an invoice of all the produce items included, and there are usually a few relevant recipes and news tidbits on the reverse side of the sheet.  They're usually simple, tasty recipes that utilize the box items, and I've incorporated a number of them into our weekly meals.
A potato crust quiche S. made with items from the box!

Not all cities and locations may have viable options like this for a CSA box, but I think it's a really great resource, and definitely something to look into.  The price is reasonable (in this city, anyway) and on par with other organic food prices in the grocery store - some things are cheaper, some things less so.  Having the bulk of our weekly food come in a box also limits the number of grocery trips we make, as well as the time we spend in grocery stores, which in turn limits the number of random things we end up buying and helps us stick to a budget.  We do buy grains, proteins, dairy and dry goods (herbs, garlic, etc.) from Costco or grocery stores (though I make our bread), and will occasionally pick up fruit when it's on sale and I want it for baking or something.  Otherwise, all of our fruits and veggies come from the farms, which is a nice thought, right?

Except for the time there was a frog in our box.  Fresh from the farm, indeed.

Anyhow, I thought I'd just share about it, since I'm not sure how many people are familiar with it - I've converted a lot of friends, and even my mom wishes it was an option where my parents live (it's not, unfortunately).  They have bigger sizes, for families with children, for reasonable prices.  What do you think?  Is it something you would consider?  Also, what are your thoughts on occasional "Foodie Fridays?"