I’m a bit of a bipolar eater. While I allow myself to indulge everyday (typically for ice cream, chocolate, cheeseburgers or bacon-wrapped steak) I can also be an extremely healthy eater. When I lived alone I ate a LOT of roasted vegetables and fruit. I don’t really enjoy cooking meat as much as I like eating it, and vegetables are genuinely my favorite food.
I also happen to love a man who is an amazing cook. And adventurous too! I bought him a sausage grinder for his birthday and he was absolutely thrilled. He has way too many size variations of pickling jars. He even bought an oyster shucking knife after a happy hour at an oyster bar.
Per his suggestion, and my never ending enthusiasm for his cooking, we decided to join a CSA this summer. While I don’t consider myself passionate about community supported agriculture, I do visit farmers markets regularly and I’m careful of the brands I buy in stores. A lot of this was inspired by a book I read, called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which I wrote about in this Bookworm blog post last year. So we did it, we signed up. For 19 weeks, we agreed on walking one block from our apartment to pick up our small share box of locally grown, organic vegetables.
June 19th rolled around and suddenly, reality hit. The first week was an utter disaster. First, we found out that the fridge freezes everything on the second shelf. I guess this is a common thing, but we had no idea. Also, it was incredibly hot. And our kitchen was hotter. 90 degree kitchens don’t keep food tasty for very long. Our first CSA was a failure.
We did get better though. We used the drawers in the fridge. We spun the lettuce in a salad spinner and gently placed the leaves in paper towels. We rinsed the dirt off before placing the veggies in the fridge. We even found a use for an old cooler, to keep carrots in the pantry without getting too hot. There were still missteps of course, but we got better… but the biggest problem of all was that I was pissed at our CSA. I resented having to go pick the damn thing up.
I can now understand that the problem was me all along. I’m a picky eater. As much as I love some vegetables, I do not love ALL veggies. Fennel is GROSS. Who on Earth can use 5 bushels of cilantro? More fava beans? Really? Who are they to tell me what I have to eat this week? I was fine with carrots and broccoli. I was doing better than expected with the squash. I did a happy dance for the cucumbers. But I was really hitting rock bottom with the weekly box.
Finally, after repeated heated discussions on just HOW disgusting fennel is, my mom recommended that I reread Animal, Miracle, Vegetable. She was right. CSA’s are incredibly important for the environment, for the community and, most importantly, for my health. We use Helsing Junction Farm and I would highly recommend them! And, the nerdy work side of me truly appreciates how great their social media presence is. Just look at how cute their Instagrams are!
I do think CSA’s are an investment. An investment of money of course, typically you pay upfront, but also time and patience. We’ve had to look up recipes for foods we don’t typically cook with and John had a couple failed batches of pickled cucs because the kitchen was getting so hot in the summer sun. I think there has to be a little heartache involved to make it worth it though. I’ve told myself a couple of times “never again” but honestly I feel pretty confident in restarting with a CSA next summer.
But we’re giving away the fennel. Do you like fennel? Would you like some fennel?