Thursday, December 9, 2010

So long, and thanks for all the greens: a CSA postmortem.

Whew! That was a wild 24 weeks, wasn’t it? Well, maybe we have different definitions of wild. It feels odd to not get our vegetables midweek anymore, though I’m sure Red is happy to be able to come straight home after work on Wednesdays instead of trucking on down to our hippie grocery first. Thanks for your dedication, love. Thanks also for eating most of the cabbage.

We’ve learned a lot these past few months. I learned all about new-to-me vegetables: garlic scapes, mizuna, tatsui, fennel, celeriac, escarole, sweet potato leaves, bok choy, various squashes. I pride myself on being a well-rounded vegan, but I had never even heard of mizuna or tatsui! It was truly enlightening to expand my palate and cooking repertoire, especially because, left to my own devices, I probably never would have bothered with sweet potato leaves or bok choy.

As you saw, all our random veggies didn’t always go together in any intuitive way. That meant quite a few curries and stir-fries. I didn’t really mind, but sometimes it got a little boring. I know that Red, in particular, likes a little variety, whereas I’ll slog through a whole pot of mediocre whatever just because I made it and it’s gotta get eaten.

We also learned that our lettuce threshold is extremely low. Like, one head per month. It is just boring stuff. I like salads and all, but I like cooked food more. Unless we’re talking pasta salad, but even then, I’d rather have my pasta warm and comforting. Anyway, if you join a CSA, there’s no getting around the fact that you will be snowed under with lettuce and similar greens. I’m proud of us for rocking all the spinach and chard and kale that One Straw threw at us, but you can actually cook those. You can’t really cook lettuce. I’ve heard tell that you can kind of stir-fry it a little and it works out, but just…no.

Which brings me to my next point: compost. Namely, we composted more food than I would have liked. Composting is awesome and I’m glad we’re doing it, but I felt awful every time we chucked a sad-ass head of lettuce or forgotten beet. Some weeks, we simply got too many veggies. We cook a lot, and we eat a lot, but sometimes we couldn’t keep up. If we do this again next year, I think we’ll only buy a half-share. That might leave us needing to buy more at the grocery store or the farmer’s market, but I’d rather do that than have to throw some away. I split a half-share with my mom a few years ago, when I was cooking only for myself, and I really liked it—it was cool to go to the farmer’s market, talk to Joan from One Straw, and pick out whatever struck my fancy. The downside is that once or twice I ended up at the market in the bitter November cold (or the cold November rain), but that’s what gloves are for.

I’m not sure we saved much money, either. We don’t really buy too many extras or junk food, so we weren’t trying to trim our budget, but saving money is always a nice perk. Even if we didn’t, I’m glad we were able to support an organic local farm. I’d happily spend a little more for that.

All in all, I would call this CSA experiment a success. It was interesting to fit our meal plans to the veggies we had on hand, rather than choosing recipes and then shopping for ingredients. Like the damn hippie I am, I felt very in tune with nature, eating corn and watermelon in the summer and root vegetables and winter squash in the fall. We take for granted that we can get anything at any time, when for most of history, it wasn’t like that. For many people today, it still isn’t. It’s good to remember where we come from.

So, thank you, One Straw Farm, for feeding us these many weeks. And thank you, blog friends and lurkers (I know you’re out there!), for coming with me on this journey.

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