I like my CSA
- leanneabe Jul 27, 2007 11:01 AM
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?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.