Saturday, March 24, 2012

Farm Fresh to You CSA Boxes

Organic sweet potatoes, artichokes, lemons, Braeburns, kale, lettuce, celery, spinach, & oranges from a February shipment
Sauteed Spinach and Leeks, Grilled Radicchio Salad with Sherry-Mustard Dressing, Orange-Ginger Chicken and Veggies - just a few of the recipes that come in the amazing little box of organic fruits and veggies that come to my door every Tuesday.  Nothing has changed my health, my lifestyle, or the way I cook (and how much I cook) more than making the decision to sign up for a CSA Box.  I can't say enough about the return on investment for taking part in Farm Fresh to You's  delivery service. 
Chard, lettuce, green apples, kiwi, radishes, white onion, potatoes, carrots, fresh rosemary, & celery from a January box
I have written about CSA farms before, but I feel it necessary to post about them again because I get so many questions about them through my blog and in everyday conversation.  "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  CSAs are locally-based farms that produce mostly organic, in-season, and diverse fruits and vegetables, and rely on the local community to purchase directly from them.  Some CSAs also produce eggs, beef, honey, dairy, flowers, and other goodies. There are several different types of distribution and business models, and the primary benefit is that they deliver directly from the farm to your door in the 'Burbs or city. 
Romaine, celery, heirloom tomatoes, grapes, beets, cauliflauer, plums, pears, & chard from a Fall delivery
I found Farm Fresh to You at a booth at a food festival in Santa Monica last Fall, signed up on the spot, and have been in love ever since.  Normally, I find myself sniffling and sneezing all Winter-long; this year I made it all the way to March before I got sick (and I blame this on a serious travel schedule for work).  If I'm feeling a bit sluggish from lack of sleep, poor eating, or too much wine, I whip up a fruit & greens smoothie and feel much better. 

I love the newsletter that accompanies each box; the author, 'Thaddeus,' may not know how much I have learned from his dreamy musings.  I grew up in a farming and gardening haven in Southern Idaho and there are definitely challenges to organic farming that I never would have thought about without this newsletter.  He makes me want to move to an organic farm and leave Hermosa Beach, L.A., and all of the smog and humans behind.  But with their wonderful service, I don't have to give up the beach and I can still eat like a queen.  Also in this newsletter are amazing recipes, great recommendations for cookbooks and cooking websites, and a list of what you received in your box.  And I am not embarassed to say that I definitely need this list ~ almost every delivery includes a wonderful surprise piece and I have no idea what it is.

If you are interested in learning more about CSAs and finding one that suits you, here are some websites to help you out:
2012 CSA Farm Directory
USDA Information
Local Harvest - lots of great information

Still not convinced?
Note that this is 1995, pretty outdated in scientific terms; my guess is that conventional isn't all that bad, and organic isn't the panacea of minerals this shows it to be...but you get the point!
Consider this: 
  1. Fresh, organic produce has more nutrients per serving than grocery-store fresh. 
  2. If you think the cost is expensive, $25 every two weeks provides me with all of the produce in the photos above.  I have a $15 co-pay for every doctor visit, not to mention meds, cough syrup, lost productivity, Kleenexes, etc.  I think I have made my ROI on this purchase!
  3. The TASTE is so much richer, and fuller.  Sure, sometimes you get small, funny-looking produce, but who cares if it tastes better and you know it wasn't manufactured to be uncharacteristically large, shiny, perfect? 
  4. It's delivered.  It saves me time because I typically go to the grocery store once or twice a month for staples and dry goods, and I go back numerous times for produce...but not anymore.
  5. Known health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease, many cancers, and a host of other health issues.  Organic produce reduces this risk even more.
  6. An improved palate and cooking repertoire.  Impress your friends! ;-)
  7. Extra produce can be PRESERVED for future use so it doesn't go bad.
  8. Extra produce can be SHARED with friends nearby.  I have been known to give away greens when I know I won't be able to eat them on my own before they go bad.
Now...just this week I received my first strawberries of the season.  Enjoying a post- beach volleyball fruit and Greek Yoghurt smoothie.  xo, AB
Gorgeous.  They smell(ed) delicious.  Can't wait for more.
P.S. The little blemish on the strawberry on the front was my fault - I smooshed the lid on.

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