Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Joining a CSA Made Me a Better Eater

Typical CSA pick-up, from earlier this year.

It feels like Paul is a contestant on Iron Chef every other Thursday.

Of course, there are a few differences: (a) he's not competing against anyone, and (b) instead of one secret ingredient, he has a whole box full.

This year Paul and I joined a newly formed Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program in our neighborhood. Every Thursday, a farm from just outside of New York City delivers to a central location box after box of organically grown vegetables, and CSA members pick up their allotted share. Paul and I purchased an every-other-week share for about $270, which entitled us to pick-ups from mid-June through mid-November.

It's more than I would normally spend on vegetables, but I now (duh) eat more vegetables. And different vegetables! Last week's pick-up included 13 different kinds of veggies, from tomatoes and eggplants to tat soi and bok choi. Often, I've never even heard of half of the things we pick up, let alone eaten them. If Obama got busted during the election for eating arugula, I wonder what those same people would think of my oak leaf lettuce and broccoli rabe.

The cornucopia of vegetables has made me not only eat better, but also try new dishes.

We could have three salads a day and still not get rid of all of the greens before they spoil, so Paul has found creative ways to use them up. Curry (although I still think it has the color and consistency of baby poop) has become one of my favorite meals, and it's a great way to get rid of the bitter greens that we otherwise can't stomach. A couple of weeks ago we had so many greens that Paul finally came up with what I now refer to as "green soup" -- all of the leftover greens blended into tiny pieces with chicken broth, butter, chopped onions and a lonely potato that we kept forgetting to eat. Just looking at the soup made me feel healthier.

Part of the reason we had hesitated to join a CSA before was because the pick-up location was so far away. The new CSA we joined, however, had a pick-up location of exactly one block away. If that doesn't change, there's no doubt we'll be CSA members next year, too.

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