Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's a CSA?

My plan with this blog is to show off our weekly CSA and to chronicle what we make with the produce. But let me back up a minute. Often when I tell people outside of lala land Ithaca, and sometimes even folks from Ithaca, that Joel and I are "doing a CSA" I get blank stares or flat-out asked what's a CSA? Allow me to explain.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture which is essentially a farm share. How it works is you pay a farm or in our case a collection of farms a fee to have access to their produce for a set amount of time on a weekly basis. Our share started last week and goes through late fall totaling almost six months. This is my second year doing it and it's really fantastic. Our particular CSA is The Full Plate Farm Collective and it is wonderful. Hop over to their site for more information on how to join their particular collective. Also, they have tons of information on CSA and organic food as well as recipes. There are a few options in terms of how you can receive the produce either going to the farm to pick a select number of items or a pre-packed half bushel box delivered. We've chosen the latter  mostly for convenience but also for the adventure. Since you don't get a choice in the produce, by omitting what you don't like/aren't familiar with, you get what you get. We really like this because it helps us try new things.

Ok so on to this week's haul.
Please don't mind the junk around it  - I promise to get better at this picture taking business. Ok so from the top left, a bag of mixed greens, a large head of leaf lettuce, kale, more bagged greens, dill, basil and garlic scapes (the long curly items).
Strawberries - yes please!
A close up of the kale and the dreaded BEET! Oof.

Let me stop here for a minute. I hate beets. I mean really hate beets, as many of you know. I have tried different recipes and I want to like them but I really do not like them. I've tried to roast them, who doesn't love roasted veggies? Blah. I've tried making a citrus salad with them - surely the orange zest and juice will balance out the dirt-like flavor of the beets. Have you ever had oranges that taste like dirt? Not. Good. Back to the drawing board I go.

So once again this year my task is to cook the beets in new and interesting ways so that I may like them. The good news is J will eat them but actually he's not crazy about them either. Plus, since I've done this CSA before I know at the tail end of the season we will get loads of beets. So I have my work cut out for me.  If you have suggestions please please please send them my way.

There you have it, our haul from this week. I will post more pictures and recipes of what we've made soon!


  1. Hey Amy! We are actually doing our first CSA this summer!! Normally, we go to the Public Market all summer long and pick out things that look interesting or different and figure out how to cook them, so this summer we decided we would invest in the "mystery box" instead through a CSA. I'm actually picking up our first box today and I'm super excited about it! I'll definitely be following your blog and adding comments as I find good recipes or have some mis-adventures with food! Good luck to you this summer!! And, ps...I love beets! :)

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  3. As an aside; you've also inspired me to look into CSA's in Chicago... once I'm in the new place I may do this... we'll see... the deal has to be better than the fruit/veggie market I go to though... I walk out of there with arm loads of stuff for like $9.

  4. Beets are the worst. I know I'm no health nut but I do like/eat most veggies... it's probably the only reason I don't need to be airlifted out of my house. The only time I've been able to tolerate beets (still didn't love them) was in this salad I had at 312 Chicago. They roasted the beets and then served them with goat cheese, chopped hazelnuts, sherry vinegar and some orange zest. The hazelnuts are really what made it edible.

    Here's another recipe I found that seems like it might mask the beet pretty well:

  5. Lisa - that's so exciting that you all are getting a CSA. I can't wait to hear what you make. What do you do with beets that you would recommend?

    Jenn - woot woot! I love that you are getting a CSA! I need to check out your beet ideas. I am determined to have at least a less hate-hate relationship with them; I'll settle on a love-hate.

  6. Well, it sounds like you have done a lot with the beets already. We roast them, we do them in salad (with like vinegar, goat cheese, and walnuts), we had this great recipe that was beets cooked with green beans and goat cheese. My mom used to pickle them when we were kids and I loved those too. So, I'm not sure we do anything you haven't tried yet...keep trying maybe they'll grow on you...or maybe they'll just taste like dirt forever!
    Sadly, I did not get my mystery box yesterday :( they decided there was not enough veggies so there was no delivery this week...fingers crossed for next week!