My CSA


I forgot to post about last week’s box.

How could I forget to post about last week’s box? Well, because I forgot to pick up last week’s box. Wednesday night, 9:15, there I was in the Portland airport, frantically calling my CSA partner, Tyler, giving him directions to the pick-up point and instructions as to how to pick up the veggies.

I did, however, remember to pick up this week’s veggies. Just in time to stick them in my fridge and leave for San Diego. But anyways… here’s what’s in this week’s box:

  • Sweet Corn: No caterpillar/worms so far…
  • Cucumbers
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Magda Squash
  • Melons: 3 melons this time! I have no idea what kind they are. Two look like canteloupes, and one may be a honeydew. But, as my English student said when I showed him a honeydew (“HONEY DOO”), a watermelon (“WA TER MELON”), and a canteloupe (“CANT A LOPE”), “Noooooo. Todos estan melones! Melon es melon.”

I just can’t argue with that logic.

The husband was in Baja this week, so I decided to forego Saturday's Farmer's Market at the insistence of my good friend Al. After all, a girl can only eat so many veggies on her own. But then we had friends over that night, and then we made flatbreads and salad and mojitos and coconut ice cream, and then I was left with very little. So little, in fact, that I resorted to defrosting frozen broccoli soup I made in March for dinner last night.

So I was really looking forward to today's box. I NEEDED VEGGIES!

Well, I learn again…. Careful what you wish for. This week's box was overflowing. It looks like the veggies are finally catching up with the calendar now that the sun is actually shining.
The Box:

  • Butter Leaf Lettuce
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Vidalia Onions
  • Blueberries- I'm basking in all these blueberries. I love love love blueberries. Mix em in my goat's milk yogurt in the morning, toss them in my salad with spinach, toasted almonds, and (of course) goat cheese, pop em in my mouth mid day.
  • Strawberries- This week's are smaller than usual, but so sweet! Confession: I already ate them all. Don't tell the Husband.
  • Italian Zucchini
  • Bright Lights Chard- Threw the chard in a frittata tonight for dinner. I didn't want to give them a chance to get forgotten beneath my more favored veggies.
  • Carrots- Too many carrots! Make it stop!
  • Kohlrabi- Crap. What am I going to do with all this Kohlrabi? I haven't even used last week's! Ideas? Help!!
  • Fennel- Yum. I love chopping this up, tossing it with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, then roasting it in the oven until crispy. Then pack it in my very large purse for midday munchies at the office. Why not eat it with a meal? Because the Husband doesn't like fennel. Crazy, I know. Did I say yum? Yum.
  • Garlic

Stopped by Jocelyn's site and realized I forgot to post about this week's box from my CSA!

I do have to admit to a tiny tinge of box envy. After all, she has stone fruits! And nice pictures! As mentioned several times before, I share a digital camera with my always-travelling husband who now has our camera in Baja. I, however, am not in Baja (sob), I am stuck in SLO with no camera to take so-so photos of my box. You see, not only am I not in Baja (sob), but I'm also not a good photographer.

There are things that I am, and things that (alas) I am not.

So back to the box:

  • Ciogga Italian Beets
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Strawberries (TWO baskets this week!)
  • Vidalia Onions
  • Wild Mint
  • Kohlrabi
  • Fennel
  • Sorrel
  • Butter Leaf Lettuce
  • Greens Mix (mostly Tokyo Bekana Cabbage)

Next week's possibilities:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Summer Squash
  • Chard?
  • Potatoes?
  • Kohlrabi/ Fennel
  • Cabbage?
  • Strawberries
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet Onions
  • Blueberries?

Of course, I don't hold my breath for these possibilities because that's how I became so beet depressed last year. Week after week, the beets were supposedly coming. And yet, week after week, no beets. But a possibility of beets in next week's box. At first I was sad. Then enraged. Then I hit a stage of denial. Then came the self pity. Then I just became despondent. It was a very dark time with no beets. Only the unfulfilled, empty promise of future beets. And then finally, in the last weeks of my CSA, they came, renewing my feelings of love and gratitude towards my benefactors, my farmers, my CSA.

Now is a different time. Now I have beets coming out of my ears. Guess what I had for lunch? Beets. Roasted beets chopped and tossed with diced shallots, the juice of a tangelo, a splash of cider vinegar, and crumbled Cypress Grove dill chevre. My lips are stained. My thumbs are stained. And my shirt is stained. (sigh) Such is the reality of living with beets.

Several years ago, when I was still at Cal Poly studying… well… what was I studying? Not important. Anyways, back in college, one day out of the blue, these t-shirts started popping up all over campus. They were bright orange, and all they said was, "I Agree With Jimmy."

It started with just a few kids sporting the shirts, but within a week or two, the orange shirts infiltrated the campus. Guaranteed, at least one kid in each of your classes would be wearing one. I wondered if these people ever washed their orange shirts, or if they just decided to wear them day after day after day.

What did it all mean? Why were these people agreeing with some guy who apparently needed no last name?

Well, this was the bait on a hook. I approached one girl wearing her Jimmy shirt and asked her about it. "So what's all this Jimmy stuff about?"

"Omigod! I'm Sooooo glad you asked! Jimmy is a guy who's in Campase Crusades for Christ with me. He says Jesus died for our sins, and I agree with him. Do you agree with Jimmy?"

"Um… that's none of your business." (Oh crap. what had I done? I had opened the door to a spiritual discussion with a complete stranger… How had this happened???)

"Well, here's a flyer for Campus Crusades. You should come to a meeting sometime, it's… like… so COOL!" (hair-flip and giggle)

"Um…. I don't think so. I'm really busy with school and booze and all that other stuff."

So Jimmy was Cal Poly's prophet a la mode. Apparently, other colleges had similar experiences with t-shirt prophets, and all of their names begin with the letter J… hmmm… J for Jesus? Or maybe the alliteration is simply coincidence. Genius marketing, much less intrusive than, say, a Jehovah's Witness at your door.

So anyways, where was all this going? Oh yes. That's right. I still don't agree with Jimmy. Instead, I agree with Fred.

(more…)

In this week's box:

~The Most Ginormous Head of Romaine Lettuce I Have Ever SEEN (with not even a nibble from the friendly little bugs… Not even a NIBBLE! How'd they do that?)

~Zucchini- The squash is coming, the squash is coming!

~Vidalia Onions- Yum, so sweet!

~Spinach

~Carrots- I finally found a use for all those carrots I get every week. I guess I'm just not a carrot eater, as my carrots just sit in the drawer until they turn to rubber. But not any more. I've been shredding them up and using them in my bean burgers!

~Bright Lights Chard- This makes me nervous. You can use chard in basically any cuisine, from Italian to Cajun to Japanese. Cook it up in a stir fry, wilt it with garlic and red pepper as a side dish, make it a star in your frittata. But, in my fridge, among that always-growing community of vegetables, chard has become the proverbial middle child. It's so well-mannered and quiet that it just gets forgotten. But I'm determined this time to treat my vegetables equally, so it's time that chard receives the attention it deserves.

~ Parsley

~Cilantro

And from my biweekly newsletter, Organic Bytes:
Organic Marketing Facts:

~23% of U.S. consumers now buy organics at least weekly.
~"Organic" has replaced the word "natural" as the mainstream food buzzword.

~Asian Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans are more likely to purchase organics than Caucasians.

~African Americans are more likely to be what the Hartman Group calls "Core Organic Consumers," those most involved in the organics world.

Source: Conagra consumer survey released last week

Fuel Facts:

~Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp. In fact, when the diesel engine was first introduced at the World's Fair in 1900, it ran on peanut oil.
~Two decades later, Henry Ford was designing his Model Ts to run on ethanol made from hemp. He envisioned the entire mass-produced Model T automobile line would run on ethanol derived from crops grown in the U.S.
~Even in the 1920s, the oil industry had massive lobbying power in Washington. Lobbyists convinced policymakers to create laws favoring petroleum based fuels while disgarding the ethanol option.
~Nearly a century later, amidst oil wars in the Middle East, Global Warming, and a nearly depleted oil supply, the U.S. government is finally shifting attention to fuels that are more along the lines of Diesel and Ford's original ideas.
~In an interview with the New York Times in 1925, Henry Ford said: "The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumac out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There's enough alcohol in one year's yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years."

Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_666.cfm

That's right. I spent Sunday at the home of my CSA, Huasna (pronounced Wah-zna) Valley Farm. The farm is tucked waaaaay back in the township of Huasna. Though it's little over 30 miles from my house, it takes about an hour to get there… the last 10 miles on Huasna Rd. is long and windy. The first part of the journey I cruised along on autopilot, as Huasna is right by my work, and I make the drive through the Edna Valley 5 days a week. My farm share buddy Al pointed out how pretty everything was… all the vineyards, the cows and horses, the rolling hills and poppies, and I realized that the effect had been lost on me through the daily rote drive. Time to open the eyes each morning and take it all in. Remind myself how lucky I am to commute to work each day through vineyards instead of hitting morning traffic on freeways and interestates.

We finally reached the farm, and realized we were severely unprepared for the afternoon ahead. First of all, it was 95 degrees out and we had left the sunscreen at home. We quickly found a friend and bummed some Coppertone off of him. Second, we had no food with us. I knew it was a BYOP(icnic), but I wasn't hungry when I left the house. Once at the farm, observing all of the fellow foodies and their fresh picnic fare, my stomach began grumbling and I felt a large stab of envy…. potato salad envy, that is. So rather than stand around with our tongues hanging out of our mouth, we helped ourselves to the fresh mint iced tea provided, and took a little walk out and about.

Allison with her Mint Tea

Here's Al with her mint tea. At her feet we found our future broccoli.

Broccoli

We got hot, and headed back to join the others for a tour of the farm.

Hi Ron (click to enlarge)
Farmer Ron Skinner gave us a little rundown on the history of the farm. He talked extensively about organics today and explained why they are not Certified Organic. Basically, since all of his produce is sold to individuals through a CSA, we are all the certification he needs, meaning that there's no need to jump through the hoops and pay the fees for Certification from the State. He describes their farming philsosphies and practices, and they fall into the category that I (and many others, like Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan for example) like to call "Beyond Organic."

He talked a bit about the effects of the late spring heavy rains, some good (they have had to irrigate only recently, where last year they began irrigating in early May. This saves not only money, but precious time during a busy season on the farm), some bad (poor fruit set in their orchards. There were high hopes that this year would be the first for apples, peaches, and apricots in our farm shares). But overall, they're optimistic for the coming summer.

We left the hot shade of the barn and walked out into the hotter sun of the afternoon to take a brief tour of the crops. We walked out past the asparagus fields. Asparagus growing in the ground is the strangest thing:

Asparagus (click photo to enlarge)

To Be Continued….

We went out to visit Huasna Valley Farm (our CSA) today for a special Spring Picnic Day.

Pictures and details to follow SOON, but this new wordpress file upload technology is not as zippy as MT, so the learning curve is a bit slow for this young grasshopper.

A few things I can say for certain: the people who grow my food genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of their soil, their crops, and their clients (us!). I'm extremely grateful to them for all their hard work. While they're not Certified Organic, they go Beyond Organic. Much more important in my opinion.