September 25, 2010

What's a CSA, anyway?!?

One of the reasons Jeffrey and I have been able to eat better this summer has to do with the CSA we joined this July.  What's a CSA?  It is Community Supported Agriculture.  We chose Foxfire Acres as the farm to partner with, based on searches at Local Harvest.  It had good reviews, was more generous with produce amounts than some others we looked at, and the Des Moines pickup site was right on our way home from work- very convenient.  Here's how a CSA works:  you buy a share of the farm's produce in advance of the growing season.  Then when the garden starts producing, you make weekly pickups of your food.  Foxfire is all fruits and vegetables, but other CSA's also have meat, cheese, egg, or fresh cut flower options.

Jeffrey and I decided to try a half season/ half share, because honestly, you have to come up with a what amounts to a large amount of money all in one chunk (or two chunks, if you're on a full season plan) upfront, and we weren't sure if we'd like it, or if we'd end up wasting food, or if the quantities would suit us.  It was a great experience, and we are buying a full season/ half share for next year.    Here's what our last box of the season looked like, all spread out:

There were:  
2 spaghetti squash
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
4 eggplant
a bunch of golden delicious apples
6 small pie pumpkins
4 small cucumbers
1 summer squash
a dozen tomatoes (mix of golden and red)
1 large yellow onion

We love CSA pickup day, it's always a wonderful surprise to see what we get!  Since we're up for new experiences, getting our box every week lets us try veggies we otherwise would ignore.  I've had more squash this summer than I've had in my whole life!  Eggplant is a vegetable I previously wasn't so fond of, but I have enjoyed the Eggplant Parmesan and other eggplant dishes Jeffrey has made.  The only real dud vegetable, in terms of our own taste preferences, was okra.  We tried it 2 or 3 different ways, and it still tastes like something only a cow would be happy to chew on.  Maybe we just haven't met the right recipe yet!

As a two-person household with our own small vegetable garden, the amount of food was just right for us.  We got to eat lots of sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, eggplant and squash.  Having the weekly food pickup forced us to eat more fresh food than we would have otherwise purchased at the grocery store, and it certainly was healthy.  I'm prediabetic, and my blood sugar levels, checked in February and September, showed that my high blood sugar has now decreased to the high-but-normal range.  We are very pleased with Foxfire Acres!

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