Are you a member of a CSA—Community Supported Agriculture—program? CSA popularity is at an all-time high, which is cool because it means that more people are finding ways to connect directly to farmers, investing in local agriculture, and eating more healthfully in the process. You can find one in your neighborhood here!
Here’s how a CSA works: You pay a flat fee up front to join for a season. Once the growing season begins, you are entitled to a (usually) weekly share of whatever the farm is growing/producing. Easy peasy (get it? PEA-sy?)!
We absolutely love CSAs around here at SmartGirlVeg HQ, and here’s why:
· They make seasonal food exciting. Sure, you can by tomatoes at the grocery store year round. But they taste better when they’re fresh and local. They may even be better for you. You know the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” You’ll jump for joy when those tomatoes finally come back, and they’ll taste that much sweeter.
· They push you to vary your diet. Broccoli and kale are super healthy vegetables. But if they’re all you eat, you’re missing out on the wide spectrum of nutrients found in other veggies.
· They connect you to your community. CSAs are generally volunteer-run and require some sort of participation from members. Joining one can be a great way to meet people and know your neighbors.
· They’re delicious. Nothing beats fresh, local produce.
If you’ve taken the plunge and joined a CSA this year, we think that’s awesome. But now that we’re deep into the hottest, most prolific weeks of the summer, you may be feeling CSA burnout. Are you drowning in zucchini? Choking on cauliflower? Fear not! Follow our 5 rules for surviving your CSA this season:
1. Make CSA night No Cook Dinner Night. What, you’re thinking? You come home with bags full of vegetables and you don’t cook? Bear with us. Keep it cool and make a salad. Wash whatever leafy greens you’ve gotten and top with your favorite salad fixins. Instead of making an elaborate meal, spend your energy on figuring out how you’re going to maximize your veggie loot for the rest of the week.
2. Blend and freeze herbs. If you come home with a gigantic bundle of a soft herb like basil or cilantro, it’s likely going to wilt before you get a chance to use it. Wash it and toss into the food processor with garlic, nuts, and olive oil, and voila—pesto you can keep in the fridge for this week or even freeze for later use.
3. Boil and cool beets. Beets are so sweet and delicious in salads. But who ever feels like boiling or roasting them? Don’t put the beets in the fridge whole. Trim them (save the greens to sautee, if you really want to show off!), wash them, cook them, and refrigerate them. You’ll actually use them.
4. Build vegetables into your breakfast. Shred up some zucchini and carrots and use them for muffins. Or toss kale and spinach leaves into a morning smoothie. You’ll feel great for starting your day with veggies, and get through your share that much faster.
5. Slice for snacking. That red bell pepper and cucumber could start collecting dust in your fridge before you think of how to work them into a meal. Instead, cut them up and munch away, or serve as a pre-meal appetizer.
Are you a member of a CSA? What are your secrets for getting through the heavy vegetable growing season?