Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is a CSA right for me?

Joining in a CSA isn't for everyone. There's no shame in that! It's usually a pretty hefty financial commitment and a fair amount of work. We receive far more produce than we could possibly eat each week and it can be a challenge to figure out how to use or preserve it all.

Here are some questions to ask yourselves when deciding whether or not to take the produce box plunge:

Do we eat veggies now? Lots of folks, including our family, sign up for a CSA as motivation to up our veggie intake or introduce us to new veggies. But if you rarely eat fresh produce--or only eat a few favorites--a weekly produce box is probably going to be pretty overwhelming. Trust me: it's a lot of food. It might be better to ease into it by spending a summer shopping the farmer's market first.

Do we have time in our schedule? You'll need extra time each week for cooking, digging up recipes (what in the world do you do with kohlrabi?), and preserving the extra produce while its still fresh. If you can barely find time to cook dinner during the summer, you likely won't have time to handle the demands of the produce box.

Do we like to cook? You don't need to be foodies (heaven knows we're not), but you should at least not mind cooking from scratch. You can only eat so many raw veggies, and some veggies aren't that tasty unless cooked into a dish. There's also not much point in preserving food if you're not going to cook with it during the year.

Do we have a sense of adventure? I'm sure there are some folks out there who can (a) identify and (b) effortlessly use everything that comes in their produce box. We are not those people. We were introduced to lots of new fruits and veggies last year. We mis-identified items all the time (oh, the sad little rhubarb cobbler that wasn't rhubarb after all) and wasted others while we dithered about how to use them. But we also discovered some new favorites (hooray for ground cherries!) and had fun trying new things. A sense of humor and a willingness to try the unusual will serve you well.

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