I’ve made a HUGE mistake…
It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m standing in my kitchen staring at a pile of vegetables meant to feed a family of 5. One problem: I’m a family of one.
How will I eat all of this spinach? Is it even healthy to eat this many beets? This one looks like a UFO.
It’s the first pick-up day of the season for my CSA box, or farm share. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and was started here in Massachusetts in 1980 as a way to support small farms in the area.
Every week for the last 3 summers I have received a box of vegetables provided by Stone Soup Farm, an organic vegetable and egg farm located in Hadley, Massachusetts. Each share contains around 10lbs of produce, and the content of the share varies by the time of the year.
At the beginning of the summer, my box usually contains a lot of greenery like lettuce, bok choy, and spinach. As summer heats up, the shares often contain eggplant, peppers, and the star of the CSA – tomatoes.
When all of the summer squashes have been eaten, and the tomatoes have been sauced, Stone Soup Farm also has a winter CSA. Pickups are every other week from November to April. The box contains mostly root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets, but each share also includes a big bag of spinach or mixed greens grown in a green house. I have never been so excited to eat spinach. Despite feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of vegetables, picking up my CSA is the highlight of my week.
Before I signed up to participate in a CSA, I really missed fresh vegetables. Coming from California, I was used to eating locally grown produce. In Santa Cruz, CA, where I did my undergraduate work, I would go to the farmer’s market every week. Until moving to Cambridge, it never occurred to me that farmer’s markets could be seasonal.
I must have complained about the produce a lot my first year in graduate school, because at one point my mom actually mailed me a box of veggies from California. It turns out that some produce isn’t well suited for shipping via USPS. Exploded avocados and tomatoes do not produce edible guacamole.
Even though there was a Whole Foods not too far from my apartment in Cambridge, I missed knowing exactly which farm my food came from, and connecting with the farmer’s themselves.
Participating in a CSA has been one the best decisions I have made in grad school. I get to pick up a huge box of veggies just a short walk away from my office every week.
I get to support local agriculture. I eat much healthier than I would otherwise; I’m now a vegetarian. I save money. It has been a challenge to eat an entire share meant to feed 2-5 people, but I’ve become an avid preserver, and I host dinners for my friends.
If you are passionate about food, and looking to support your local economy I’d recommend signing up for a CSA, although I’d suggest maybe finding a couple of friends to help you eat all of your veggies.