Tuesday, March 1, 2011

To CSA or not to CSA

Sister Barefoot got a CSA share last year and Mr. Barefoot and I watched jealously as she received fresh radishes, arugala, tomatoes, squash, and other veggies.  Okay, we weren't so jealous of the chard.  Chard is a little....gross.

So now we're trying to decide whether we want to get a half-share of the same CSA this year.  Is having fresh tomatoes and zucchini (zucchini bread!) worth the possibility of getting way more chard and kale than we can handle?

Part of figuring this out is to go through my cookbooks and see what recipes intrigue me.  I have a recipe for kale chips, which sounds a lot like eating that seaweed that you wrap sushi in.  Also chard frittata, which sounds like a pretty good way to mask the chard flavor.  I'm hoping to start making more casseroles, and I think casseroles are probably a great use for greens.

The pros of a CSA seem to be:
1.) Fresh, organic, locally grown vegetables come to us
2.) Don't have to go to the farmer's market every week
3.) Supporting a local farm
4.) Expand our horizons and eat different, crazy vegetables - and more of them, since we definitely don't eat enough vegetables.
5.) Approximately $13 a week, which is similar to what we spend on produce

The cons are:
1.) Vegetables we might not like at all, but feel like we have to eat all of since we've already paid for them.
2.) Don't get to go to the farmer's market every week (although I reminded Mr. Barefoot we could just go for the handmade mini donuts.)
3.) Harder to menu plan, since we won't know what we're getting until Monday night.
4.) Might end up with too many vegetables, and end up throwing things away.
5.) We could just take that $13 a week to the farmer's market and buy produce.

Do you have a CSA?  Would you recommend it to me?  Do you have any suggestions for great recipes for greens?  What can I do with chard?


  1. We get a farm box every week, and we started in the dead of winter, when its the hardest. It was still a lot of fun. Yeah, there were some things we got and never used, like the bizarrely spicy alfalfa sprouts, and some things we cooked but couldn't bring ourselves to eat, like gigantic beets.

    We were never going to the farmers market, though, so it has been good for us. We're eating more vegetables and the adventure part suits us.

  2. I had one when I lived near a city, and now that I live in the middle of nowhere, I miss it terribly!

    I had the same concerns about some produce spoiling or getting things I didn't like. If at the end of the week I still had a bag of green beans (or whatever else), I would blanch and freeze them to eat at a later time. I found that after testing new recipes, I liked most veggies - even one's I had never had before.

    Kale, sadly, was the one I never latched onto. I tried the chips - no dice. You could always try and find someone else at your CSA stop that maybe likes kale and ask if they want your share of that veggie.

    I would give it a try. I found it more economical than the farmer's market, but I don't know the pricing in your area.

  3. If you do join a CSA you will have to report back on how you like it! Joining one won't make sense until Econo Man and I are finally back in one household full-time but I definitely remember envying the gorgeous tomatoes our good friend got from hers back in grad school.

  4. I had a CSA last summer, for the first time. It was a pretty busy summer and I ended up cooking less than planned and throwing a lot of the produce away. If you are pretty organized and cook consistently (or will follow through and freeze the extra), I think it's convenient and a lot of fun. If you're like me, though, you might want to just go week-by-week at the Farmer's Market.

  5. I have done a CSA for a couple of years now and I love it! For me, it actually makes meal planning easier - but yes, you have to wait until say, Monday - but then you just plan around what you received, so it helps me narrow down my meal ideas. It also got me to try so many new veggies - beets, celeriac, purple potatoes, winter squash that wasn't butternut, etc.

    You can also freeze items like green beans, broccoli, etc. to help keep you from feeling overwhelmed, and give you something to eat after the CSA is over. You can also take whatever you have leftover at the end of the week and make a big soup, which you can also freeze for later.

    A lot of CSAs have a "trade-in" box, where you can swap out an item you don't like for one that you do (that could solve your chard problem).

    I actually love greens like chard. I put them in frittatas, risottos, soups, etc. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch also has a great recipe for braised chard.

    Good luck with your decision!

  6. We're doing one this summer and I am over the moon! I think it will push me to eat more variety of veg, and I like supporting local produce which is difficult to do around here.

    From last year I learned that I could find recipes for even the stuff I hate. (I have a really great recipe for red pepper creamy Italian soup that has chard in it, one of the only really decent ways to eat chard I know of.)