On Monday I wrote about the benefits of eating less meat and about adding a vegetarian meal to your week with Meatless Monday. Today I’m writing about how to take a larger step and consider subscribing to a CSA, or vegetable delivery. I get questions often about our vegetable delivery – how it works, what we get, etc.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and provides a way for the consumer to buy directly from the farmer. Consumers pay for a “share” or subscription to a box of vegetables grown on the farm. The varieties of CSAs are numerous. If you live in the US, LocalHarvest.org has a great feature where you can locate a CSA near you. By subscribing to a CSA, you receive a weekly box of seasonal vegetables and other farm products. It is a great way to support local farmers and eat more seasonal, local vegetables.
We subscribed to a CSA in Austin, and really enjoyed it. We have a similar service here in Ireland. One of the great things about subscribing to a CSA is that every week, you get a load of vegetables that you have already paid for! Your incentive to eat more vegetables is literally built into the program. Since you already paid for those vegetables, you might as well find a good way to use them. You don’t get to pick the exact vegetables or quantities that you receive, but that is part of the fun. Your selection changes “with the seasons”. For us, this means more root vegetables during the fall, dark greens in the spring, and tomatoes and squash in the summer. (Oh, and since this is Ireland – we get potatoes year round!) The variety is greater than most of us would normally choose at the store. Also, let’s be honest, even though I *know* beets are nutritious, the chances that I will voluntarily pick up a few from the store are… slim-to-none.
The mix of vegetables can also push you out of your comfort zone. Like the time I got this in our box. (Romanesco – one of broccoli’s cousins).
Or, the 4-lb Rutabaga (Swede). What do you do with 4 POUNDS of Rutabaga?
Or the times you get something that you cannot identify – like this item last week, which I turned to my social media friends to identify. Turns out – it’s a Jerusalem Artichoke.
Here in Ireland, the growing season is so short that traditional CSA’s are uncommon. Instead, we subscribe to a organic vegetable delivery service from Absolutely Organic. It is similar to a CSA in that we don’t get to choose the specific vegetables we get, but the vegetables are sourced from multiple farms both in and outside of Ireland. The service offers several varieties of boxes, and many other organic products. If you live in/around Dublin, I highly recommend them. We subscribe to a vegetable box, a fruit box, and extra delivery of bananas, and 2 litres of milk – all of which is delivered to our door on Friday mornings. Many of my friends have asked what comes in our box. The picture at the top of the post is what we received today, including:
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[li_item icon=””]Rutabaga/Swede – Looks like a giant turnip, but tastes like a cross between a potato and a sweet potato[/li_item]
This is a typical delivery for us. In addition to these fruits and vegetables, I usually have buy another pack of apples for school lunches and any specific vegetables that a recipe might need, but in general, it serves most of our veggie needs for the week. We drink more than 2 litres of milk per week, but it is super convenient to have at least some milk delivered. Using a CSA has completely changed my approach to food. Instead of looking at vegetables as side dishes, they are now the main course.
Would you consider a CSA? If you currently subscribe to one, what do you like or dislike about it?
**As I was thinking about this post, it occurred to me that I didn’t have any good pictures of what our fruit and vegetable delivery looks like, so rather than posting on Wednesday, I waited until I received our delivery today. I’ll post Friday Finds tomorrow.