Sunday, October 16, 2011

C is for: CSA

A typical CSA bag (adorable orange cat not included.)
This is not a recipe post. Nor is it a restaurant post. Instead, I wanted to sing the praises of CSA and encourage all who have CSA services in their area to participate.

"What is CSA?" you might be wondering? I'm glad you asked.

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture." Basically, it's a way for you to get super fresh fruits and vegetables, while directly supporting local farmers in the process. I first learned about these when I was doing a story with Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, who also happens to love cooking. (Thank you Natalie!) Also...my dad is a farmer in Montana, so supporting agriculture is something near and dear to my heart.

Depending on the farm or service you select, you regularly get a fresh box or bag of fruits and veggies delivered to your door or neighborhood. (It's like Christmas!) For me, it was a fantastic way of learning what produce was in season, and also trying out new recipes. (i.e. I would have never bought chard or kale on my own, but greens like these are now a regular in my cooking rotation).

If you live in the Bay Area, there are TONS of CSA options. Up until two weeks ago, I was using Farm Fresh to You. This is mostly Capay Organic Farms, but they will supplement with other local farms if needed. I love this service because they deliver directly to your doorstep. And if there are a couple things you don't ever want delivered to you (i.e. BELL PEPPERS), you can go on their website and edit your exclusions list. You can also elect to get deliveries bi-weekly or even monthly instead of once a week.

But recently, I had read some great things about Eating with the Seasons. They have an "extra small" option available, which is great for someone like me. They also source their produce from a variety of local farms. You also get to go on their website each week and PICK what you want to receive, with all selections based on what is locally available during that season. The other cool part...you can choose to add things like farm fresh eggs, honey, meats, etc, which I love. The only thing I don't like is you have to go pick it up, but they have tons of pick up locations around the city, so it was easy to find one that wasn't too far away. I'm just doing a trial right now, so I'll let you know how it goes.


This is an example of what I got in week #1: fresh eggs, pears, spaghetti squash, strawberries, kale, and brussels sprouts.


And here's what I got last week: avocados, artichokes, butternut squash, beans, romanesco, and strawberries (strawberry season is almost over, so I am getting them while I still can).

I was actually supposed to get cheddar (orange) cauliflower, but they must have run out (this happens sometimes), so they sent this head of Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower instead...and I can't wait to try it!

I encourage you to do some research and figure out which service fits you best. Like I said, the number of options in the Bay Area are staggering, which is awesome. Here is a list I found by doing a quick search on Yelp. Try it out...you will be amazed by how much it encourages you to cook and all of the new foods you will discover.

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