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I like my CSA

A few months ago, I asked for some help on deciding if I should join a CSA or not: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/385249

Some people agreed that my Henry's shopping was about what they would do if cooking for a 2-person household. Others said they would just go to the farmer's market instead of joining a subscription CSA. And a lot of people were happy with their CSA all over the US. I had some extra money to spend, so I figured I would just try and trial period.

I went with the Be Wise Ranch here in San Diego. There are actually a few CSAs in San Diego, but Be Wise Ranch seems to be the least expensive and they have a ton of pick-up locations (as opposed to going to a weekly farmer's market to get your share, which I don't really understand because if I was going I would just shop at the various booths).

One thing that I didn't factor into the cost was the fact that you get so much produce in one box. Yes, I could certainly shop for fewer vegetables at Henry's or the farmer's market and spend less money, but we probably also would be eating fewer green with our meals. With one large box every other week, we have both bins in the fridge full (plus my ever growing plethora of zucchini) and I have started planning the main dish around what would go with the we need to eat before the next box comes. It's kind of been fun. We've also started eating salad with almost every dinner, to go through the lettuce. I'm not a salad person, but I like the salads we eat, especially when we get the grape tomatoes in the CSA box.

I've been to Henry's twice since I started the CSA and that was to pick up some apples and peaches because we don't get fruit with the CSA and Henry's any-day-of-the-week is just more convenient than making time for the farmer's market on our weekends. Since I can afford it, I think I'll keep doing the CSA after the trial period.

Does anyone belong to one of the other CSAs in San Diego? Do you like it?


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  1. Thanks for giving a follow up. I remember reading that discussion and was thinking about doing the be wise. Glad to hear that you like it!

    1. How much produce do you get with each box ? Can describe one recent box ? We are thinking about it but are afraid that we can't use all the produce (and we eat a lot of veggies and fruits already) and have to throw away stuff.

      4 Replies
      1. re: honkman

        If you go to be wise ranch's web page they have lists of what are in both the small and large boxes. Plus you can do an every-other week box too. I think we (2 of us) are going to do the small every other week to start out with.

        1. re: jturtle

          On their webpage they only write that you can get the large boxes biweekly not the small one. Is this correct ? And they have harvest calendar but I couldn't find some examples of what they havein their boxes.

          1. re: honkman

            "We also offer either share (large or small) on a weekly or every-other-week delivery basis. There is no additional cost for this option"
            So you can do the small.

            And look under weekly pick list for what they had last week:

        2. re: honkman

          One thing I've noticed is that if there are some items on the pick list for the large box one week, the small box often gets those different items the next week. Sometimes the small box gets items the large box doesn't (nothing big, just things like radishes or whatever) and vice versa.

          My first box had 2 heads of lettuce, a big bag of perfect green beans (I hate picking through the green beans at the store and used to buy frozen ones), a bag of carrots (no greens on them), 3 cucumbers, 2 avocados, 4 zucchini, mizuna, 2 small pints (?) of strawberries, and I think one other green.

          The second box had the lettuce, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, 1 avocado, 3 small lemons, 3 beets, 3 turnips, 1 bunch each bok choy and chard, arugala, and a pint of grape tomatoes.

          I pick up my 3rd box next week!


        3. leanneabe, I remember your thread. How much produce are you getting in a big box and how much of it is lettuce. I'm in a 2-person household and one of us can't eat lettuce. How many boxes have you gotten so far and how great has the diversity of products been, i.e. do you get different items each time, or is it always the same thing? Are you finding that you can comsume the whole box in 2 weeks or do you find that you are throwing out little bits of different things?

          Has anyone out there done the CSA with Tierra Miguel. I'm moderately interested in their bio-dynamics approach and have toyed with the idea of trying them.

          4 Replies
          1. re: DiningDiva

            The first week, my mom had just visited and bought a bunch of lettuce and carrots and I didn't wrap the CSA lettuce in a paper towel like I usually do, so we didn't get to it before 1 head went bad. This time, 1 head of lettuce made salads for the 2 of us for 2 nights. If you eat salads, you could probably get through it in 2 weeks (they aren't as big as the grocery store heads and the leaves are softer.

            With the extra carrots, I ended up shredding them for carrot cake. This time, we'll sautee some and I'll probably shred some for breakfast muffins. If I didn't already have loads of zucchini from my garden, we could easily go through the 2 zucchinis in the 2 weeks.

            I find that you don't end up with a lot of 1 thing, you end up with a little of a lot of different things. Usually, 1 bunch of something (bok choy, chard, mizuna) is enough for 2 separate meals as a side dish. I typically cook dinner at home for us at least 4 nights a week, plus maybe one on the weekends, so I don't expect to throw anything out because it went bad (and I haven't yet, aside from that 1 head of lettuce). I've also noticed that these veggies seem to last a long time in the fridge. I still have half a bag of green beans from 3 weeks ago that are just now starting to look like they have a week left to them. The week they came in my CSA I got a big bunch off the green bean plant in my garden that I thought had died, which is why we haven't gone through them all yet.

            I haven't peeked in a small box, so I don't know what quantities you get with that. For our 2-person household, the large box every other week is just perfect, but I also cook a lot at home. If we were to eat out every other night, I think we'd end up with veggie overlap. Even with a small box, I don't think I'd do it every week - that's too much pressure to use up vegetables!

            I expect the lettuce, zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers will always be in the box for a while, but everything else had been different. Of course, I've only had 2 boxes so far. I have been taking pictures of the produce when I get it home, so I'll have to resize them and post them one of these days. It really is an impressive amount when you look at it all together, but if you go through it one meal at a time, the veggie bin gets quite empty by the time the next box arrives.


            1. re: leanneabe

              Thanks for the info. I'm not a big salad eater an zucchini is among my least favorite vegetables. I know BeWise has lots of pick up points and that is appealing. Now...if only I could figure out what to do with all that zucchini

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Do you like zucchini bread? I used to have a recipe for some chocolate zucchini muffins and you really couldn't tell the zucchini was in there. With some walnuts, it made a nice breakfast muffin.

                I also brought zucchini into the office. Oddly enough, my funny looking garden ones went faster than the 2 CSA ones (which were beautfully straight and green).

                What to do with lettuce other than salads, I'm at a loss. The lettuce in the CSA isn't really the right kind, but maybe some improvised lettuce wraps?

                1. re: leanneabe

                  I appreciate the suggestion but not even chocolate can help hide the zucchini. It's kind of strange I find zucchini so revolting since I generally really like most other squashes.

                  I've found that cleaning the lettuce and leaving it in the salad spinner in the fridge helps, and if I know its ready to go I tend to try and eat it. But I just can do salad everyday and so it sits and then turns brown and slimey.

                  It certainly does make sense though that you think you're eating healthier, or at least making the effort to get more vegetables into your diet.

          2. I'm very happy with bewise too, I get the large box biweekly between the two of us and supplement with other stuff. I find that they put a variety of things that means that some of it will last up to two weeks and other stuff I try to use up quicker. There are always about 2 lettuces in and nearly always leafy greens. The rest varies, but I'm so excited its tomato season now. Mmmm!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jennywenny

              I'm excited to see what tomatoes we get, too. Even my boyfriend commented how good the grape tomatoes were. I didn't expect him to notice any difference in quality, but I guess they're just that good!


            2. Thank you for posting this since i was considering Be Wise as well. The are 2 adults in the family and a baby and i was thinking of the large box for biweekly delivery as well. i will probably start the end of August.

              1. we belong to the tierra miguel csa and we absolutely love it! we get a box every other week (we are a family of two adults and one child) and it's been terrific. we eat healthier than we ever have and now plan our dinner around the veg rather than the protein! (very different for my dh who grew up eating red meat as a snack food) we feel healthier, in the end we've saved money because we stopped going out to eat as much and the vegetables taste better than anything you'll get at your local supermarket. admittedly they don't have as may pick-up locations, but it's not too out of the way for us. this week we got a box stuffed with green beans, kale potatoes and tons of other lovely things including fresh blueberries and plums. tierra miguel also has honey once or twice a year! i know it sounds like i must work for the place b/c i am gushing over it but really, it has been awesome and we love it. the only complaint i might have is that the newsletter isn't always available before we pick up so we don't always know what's coming in the box until we get it.

                here is the link for what we received in this week's box:

                we like our csa too!

                5 Replies
                1. re: fudisgud

                  how much is it/week?? I just looked at their website and they have a waiting list it seems.

                  1. re: Ela0427

                    If you read their "CSA Pledge Form", it lists the prices: http://www.tierramiguelfarm.org/forms...

                    It looks like it's between $28-33 a box, depending on which payment plan you go with?

                    Be Wise is somewhere in that range ($114 for 4 trial boxes which includes the membership fee and then $182 for the Large every other week quarterly share). It would be nice if Be Wise had more fruit (honey would be awesome), but it doesn't look like Tierra Miguel has any pick-up locations near work or home for me.

                  2. re: fudisgud

                    fudisgud, thanks so much for the information. The kitchen remodel starts Aug 6th, I'm think a CSa would be a nice way to innaguate the new kitchen!

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      just wanted to let everyone know, we pay $200 a quarter for 6 deliveries (we get the bi-weekly) - about $33.00 a box, which works out to $15.00 a week for us. we too, are not too fond of squash, but having nice, organic squash has worked out to be a lovely gift for some friends and family. i think that a CSA would be a lovely way to inaugurate the new kitchen. :)

                    2. re: fudisgud

                      I also belong to the tierra miguel csa, I pick up in Long Beach. I've gotten 3 boxes so far, and I have to say that I love it. I agree that I now prepare my meals around the veggies rather than around protein. I love eating and trying new recipes every week. The food tastes so much better than anything you'll buy at the grocery store. It's fresh and at its peak. The newsletter is available on the website Monday afternoon, but sometimes the contents are slightly different when you pick up based on availability. I think it's the best way to make sure you get your veggies for the week. I get a box every week, and there are only two of us in the house. But as I said, I base my meals around the veggies, so I go through pretty much the whole box each week.

                    3. Awesome timing, Leanneabe! I just started my trial (first pickup is this tuesday) and I was wondering how you were fareing with Be Wise Ranch, as that's who I went with. Glad to hear that it was a good experience for you.
                      I'm also doing a large box, ever other week. Did you feel it was TOO much produce for two people? I like the variety the large box offers but I hope I won't be left with rotting zucchini or something.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Jeters

                        If you make an effort to use the vegetables in your meals instead of shopping for other ones, I think you'll be able to use them up. I don't feel it's too much produce for 2 people, just more than we're used to (which means we're probably eating a better balanced diet now).

                        With 4 zucchini in the box, I don't think you'll be left with too many. My problem is that I get 4 from the CSA and then twice that from my zucchini plants!

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          awesome, thanks =)

                          I'm actually going to be in a great place right now, as my fruit trees are going crazy so I'm set for lemons, peaches, plums and tons of apples--and now with the CSA I'm looking forward to not having to go grocery shopping for a long, long, time.Yay!

                          (okay, I will still need to get dairy and eggs...hmm..does Hollandia deliver?)

                          1. re: Jeters

                            Not that I know of - but you can get the San Pasqual Academy eggs at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Sunday!

                      2. Woo hoo, you started a blog!! Welcome to the food blogging community!

                        I used to get Be Wise deliveries. I really liked it at first, and it was fun to arrange meals around the produce that arrived - but I soon realized that I was still having to shop since I wasn't getting a lot of the items that we eat - and I was throwing stuff (like the ubiquitous swiss chard) away every couple of weeks.

                        I also got a little mad when I saw their produce for sale at Whole Foods and Peoples, and realized they were selling stuff that they weren't putting in the boxes, like heirloom tomatoes, corn, etc.

                        I was actually going to switch to a small share at the end of our "trial period" - but they said they wouldn't include fruit in the small shares - so I just decided to go ahead and cancel. I liked the idea of it, but in the end I just wanted more flexibility.

                        Next year I plan to start growing my own stuff - so we'll see how that works out!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Alice Q

                          I liked the list of what is delivered for Tierra Miguel better than Be Wise, but, unfortunately, they currently have a waiting list.

                          1. re: Alice Q

                            I have succumbed and made a blog! At the very least it'll give my mom a way to keep up with me without complaining that I don't call often enough. =)

                            I can see that we may get tired of having chard or arugula all the time. Right now my tomato plant is putting out a couple nice heirlooms, so that's not a big deal, but I would be sad to see the "good stuff" going to stores all the time and not into our CSA boxes. We'll see how the next couple of boxes go. Maybe it's my laziness that I'd rather eat what's conveniently already in the fridge instead of shopping for veggie regulars!


                            1. re: leanneabe

                              I just visited your blog. Great job.
                              I hope you have as much fun with your blog as I do mine.
                              If you don't mind I am putting a link to yours from mine.

                              I am enjoying reading about your CSA boxes, and I like your writing style. You are fun and easy to read.


                              1. re: starkoch

                                Thanks! Now that I have a place to "talk", there are all sorts of places we've gone that I want to write about.

                                I guess one thing would be to write about what I actually do with all the CSA vegetables!

                          2. oh bummer...

                            This week it looks like I'm getting mizuna AND dandelion greens. What am I supposed to do with all that?

                            It does look like they're throwing in some heirloom tomatoes, but what is a tomato slicing?


                            12 Replies
                            1. re: leanneabe

                              - Mizuna - Add it to a salad
                              - dandelion greens - Braise it as a side dish for meat

                              1. re: leanneabe

                                Just saw that...um, your guess is as good as mine. I'm hoping for something nice and juicy that I can put into pasta?

                                This will be my first box. What did you do with your mizuna/dandelion greens last time?

                                1. re: Jeters

                                  I didn't get dandelion greens but I did get mizuna. I ended up sauteeing it with chopped bacon and onion, but I think it's a green that needs to cook for a while because it was still a little coarse. It's a pretty bitter green, so to use it in a salad I would have had to portion it out over a lot of salads.

                                  A pot of black eyed peas with ham and some braised greens sounds like a good option, though.

                                  1. re: leanneabe

                                    I'm really excited for my first box -- Kind of scared of mizuna but I'll try the bacon and onion thing.

                                    For dandelion greens (and I suspect this would work for mizuna as well)
                                    --from my Silver Spoon cookbook it looks like you're supposed to remove the tough outer leaves, and cut the rest into strips. Boil it in salted water for 15 minutes, and finish in a skillet with garlic, and olive oil or butter and a bit of parmesan.

                                2. re: leanneabe

                                  I think they mean "tomato, slicing" as in "slicing tomato". Those are medium-large varieties, a good size to use sliced on hamburgers or sandwiches, according to what I recall from looking at seed catalogs.

                                  1. re: leanneabe

                                    but see, doesn't that make you mad? No heirloom tomatoes for you, but you pay for the larger box. How does that make sense?

                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                      She receives both heirloom and the slicing as does the small box.

                                      1. re: jturtle

                                        BTW, just did my pickup -- I get a Large box every other week. It's like christmas =)

                                        I got:
                                        4 big "slicer" tomatoes--they look like beefsteaks
                                        10 medium-small heirloom tomatoes
                                        1 bunch of red chard
                                        1 bunch of something leafy and green, unsure what it is...
                                        1 bunch of something spiky, I think its the dandelion greens...and another something spiky which is probably mizuna.
                                        2 heads of lettuce--one is red leaf, the other I'm not sure what kind.
                                        2 cucumbers
                                        4 zucchinis
                                        a bunch of white and red finger-like radishes
                                        two avos with a good 4 days to go on em before they ripen
                                        3 lemons

                                        not a bad haul I'd say

                                        1. re: Jeters

                                          Nice! Now I have a couple extra days to figure out what to do with it all. I can't wait to dig into all those tomatoes.

                                          Check your avocados after a couple days. I've found that mine go from rock hard to eating-ready really fast!

                                          1. re: leanneabe

                                            That's the only bad thing about pickup on tuesday =)

                                            Yeah--I was shocked at the sheer amount of everything...plus the fiancee will be out of town for most of the week--sounds like zucchini bread, pickles, caprese and a LOT of salads.

                                          2. re: Jeters

                                            oh and the leafy stuff I couldn't identify was Kale.

                                          3. re: jturtle

                                            Never mind - silly me, I misread it. I think I've been staring at the computer too long today!

                                      2. I picked up box #3 yesterday - no dandelion greens! I don't know if I should feel gypped or relieved because I didn't really want them anyway.

                                        Alice Q - we did get heirloom tomatoes, but boy are they small! I'm guessing the nice ones went to market and the leftovers went to the CSA boxes.

                                        I took a picture of the bounty and overall I think it's a good one.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: leanneabe

                                          Oh lame you got oranges--I'll trade you =(

                                        2. I joined Be Wise almost a year ago and I am pretty happy with it. I LOVE the tomatoes (I had dreams about the green hierlooms) and the lettuce and almost everything else. I do hate the greens though, the chard, kale and collards. Does anyone know what to do with the stupid stuff? I currently boil and freeze it to use in quiche or let it rot.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: tomatoaddict

                                            Chard worked pretty well in a lentil soup I made the other day -- but only used half the bunch. Sigh.. I am glad I'm not the only one stuck with the greens at the end of two weeks =/

                                            kale can be cooked like spinach, I know that...but collards, I haven't a clue. I don't have a southern drop of blood in my body.

                                            1. re: tomatoaddict

                                              Rick Bayless has a great taco recipe (linked below) that can be made with various types of greens. It's very refreshing and very healthy.


                                              1. re: tomatoaddict

                                                Greens will go well in any soup, I particularly like to cook it and add it to Trader Joes roasted red pepper soup. I finally managed to get a prep that my husband likes. I sauteed garlic with sundried tomatoes and their oil, then added shredded chard (make sure to wash it really thoroughly) and then added some sherry and cooked for about 5 mins. I then added chilli flakes, half an oxo cube (bouillon cube) a teaspoon of maple syrup and some pepper. He loved it!!

                                                1. re: jennywenny

                                                  Will have to try that!

                                                  BTW, here is this week's large box haul:

                                                  1 bunch chard (swiss)
                                                  1 bunch collards
                                                  1 bunch arugula
                                                  4 zucchinis
                                                  a BIG bag of peaches (at least 10 in there)
                                                  a big bag of tomatoes (6-8)
                                                  a head of lettuce
                                                  a bag of beans
                                                  and...um...a carton of trader joes organic tomatoes? what the heck?

                                                  1. re: Jeters

                                                    I got excited about seeing peaches on the list. Are they ripe or do they need some time?

                                                    No bok choy? Boo... I'd rather have that than more chard and collards.

                                                    This is the end of my trial period this week. I think I'll send in the check to keep going, at least until next summer. Considering I do well enough with my garden zucchini and tomatoes and green beans, I'll just make do with that and then I don't have to deal with collard greens and arugula!

                                                    1. re: leanneabe

                                                      It wasnt on there, but I certainly got some choi. I'm drowning in greens ><

                                                2. re: tomatoaddict

                                                  I saute with garlic, olive oil, s+p -- not exciting, but simple and good and makes a nice side dish for any meal, and at least keeps it from rotting! .....I do end up eating a LOT of sauteed chard/greens each week in order to get through my bewise, though!

                                                3. anyone want to give an update on their status and thoughts of the San Diego CSAs? I am really interested in joining but I seem to be missing recent stuff and am wondering if the fires are still affecting the local farms. Thanks!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                                    Yes, I am considering joining once my kitchen remodel is done. I'd be really interested to know what you get during winter.

                                                    1. re: keena

                                                      Things still seem good despite the fires with bewise. I think they came to an agreement with a local orchard cos I'm getting lovely apples and oranges at the moment. Lots of greens as usual, but also great carrots, potatoes and bok choi. Great arugula too. Unfortunately I notice that they arent accepting new members until March.

                                                      1. re: jennywenny

                                                        oh crap I didn't see that on the website. I will look again.

                                                        *edit* yup on the front page in Red. I will have to wait a month or so. I guess I can go down to OB People's Co-op to try some of their stuff in the meantime ;)

                                                    2. re: MrKrispy

                                                      I signed up with Tierra Miguel and they weren't hard-hit by the fire. We love the variety of veggies that we've been receiving. Our last box had cabbage, turnips, radishes, daikon, carrots, potatoes, oranges, avocados, limes, onions, garlic, and parsley. We've used it in lots of hearty stews and soups. It's $350 for biweekly deliveries from January to April. While we were deciding where to sign-up, we calculated the per-box cost for each CSA in the area and while Tierra Miguel's on the higher end, we haven't had any regrets.

                                                    3. Has anybody tried JR Organics? They just started their CSA this fall, and as BeWise has a waitlist for every pickup site within a really long ways from my house, I'm thinking about going with them. But I go to PB's farmers market, and JR organics doesn't have a stand there, so I don't know what their stuff is like... And they don't seem to have a website...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: weezerific

                                                        It's good from what I understand - you could also try La Milpa Farms, Seabreeze Organics, Sage Mountain or Tierra Miguel. I think some of these might also have wait lists though.

                                                      2. Darnit, BeWise is still full until June

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                                          Be Wise is still so full, they are not even keeping a waiting list! You have to just keep checking the website and hope for an opening.

                                                          1. re: keena

                                                            haha yeah it will end up being a year or so that I have been trying and I still probably won't be able to sign up. Shame there isn't enough farm land in Mission Valley for me to get my stuff :)