31 October 2007

First CSA a Hit So Far

I only learned about CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) this year. They are beyond plentiful in Eugene, with I think something like 40-60 providers. We signed up for a fall CSA with Groundwork Organics. What this is, is a weekly delivery of locally, and with our choice, organically grown produce. In the spring we will likely sign up for multiple of them, with potentially one doing dairy and/or meat as well. Anyway, it's been really great so far. They provide a bunch of things that we wouldn't usually buy, or in some cases, have never even heard of!

We've had I think 3 deliveries now. Each week we've gotten 1-2 pounds of lettuce/greens (lots of spinach, field greens), a bunch or three of carrots, and then things like parsnips, beets, dill, Italian parsley, watercress, squash, potatos, onions, arugala, garlic, leeks, and more. The apples we got last week are the most flavorful apples I've had in a long time (they were "Liberty" apples I believe).

The delivery we got today included leeks, red potatos, and dill, with a recipe to go along with it (they always include recipes). It also included "Delicata squash" (roughly 8-10" long, white with green veins, and tubular, maybe 4" in diameter), with a recipe, and we'll try that out. I don't think we've bought salad greens at the market for a month due to this, which is great.

We've tried several things we have either never had, or needed to go find recipes to figure out what to do with it, etc. (the roasted parsnips were yummy). We used a bunch of the salad greens, carrots, etc. tonight, and I roasted up 4 heads of garlic as well.

I can't wait to see what the next one brings us, as well as what we sign up for in the spring (when the real CSA season occurs).


Ash said...

There's nothing this organised in the UK. For ages, there was nothing at all in my area. Then, about 3 weeks ago, I had a phone call from a company called Riverford saying a box scheme was starting in my area.

Riverford is an independent co-operative of organic farms on the south coast. Can't remember how many farms have joined, but thanks to resource-pooling, they produce between them 85 different vegetables throughout the year.

I did a rough comparison, and it works out more expensive to have non-organic veg delivered by Tesco than organic veg through this box scheme. Plus the veg is better quality, you don't pay for all the non-perfectly-spherical Argentian apples that got thrown away, and the money goes direct to farmers and box scheme organisers.

Like yo say though Chris - you have to get used to the idea (shock horror) of eating things when they are growing out of the ground, instead of having them flown half way round the world. Once you've lost the control-freak panic of "I WANT APPLES AND STRAWBERRIES IN MARCH GODAMNIT", it's actually easier to just see what gets delivered, chop it up, cook it and eat it.

Ashley Moran said...

Forgot leave the URL so you can compare... Riverford Organic Vegetables

Chris said...

In terms of eating what is in season and such, I couldn't agree more. I would MUCH rather see things go back to this, than to get crap out of season, just because. Partly what sucks is that there is so much of this out-of-season growing and junk going on, that for some of us that have grown up with that, we just don't know the seasons for everything.

I'm finding my solution to that though: CSA's and farmer's markets. Basically, if I just buy what's there, then I know it's local, in-season, etc. This is relatively easy for me to do here in Eugene, but will depend dramatically on where you live (and for some is obviously not nearly as practical - they will have to work harder to know what is in-season, as local as possible, etc, etc.).

As for UK CSA and similar, check out the book "Real Food" by Nina Planck. I believe she started a farmer's market in London or somewhere and expanded through the UK (if I recall the book correctly).

Ashley Moran said...

That book looks interesting, similar to Nourishing Traditions by the looks of it, which I haven't actually read, but which I've seen recommended several times. The only reason I've not read it is that Sally Fallon's idea of "old-fashioned" doesn't go back far enough for my liking. I prefer (and have followed, for almost 4 years) a pre-agricultural "stone-age" diet, similar to what is described in Neanderthin (you have to forgive the name...) or (slightly less accurately) Not All in the Mind. However, because of the arse-about-face economics pushed by the supermarkets, eating untreated, unprocessed vegetables pulled straight out of the ground costs more than over-processed junk that barely resembles food.

I checked and Nina Planck's markets are still all in London (about 150 miles from me). I think we do have farmers markets near where I live, but they are in nearby towns, not the city I live in, they are not run frequently, and I don't know if they are organic. I would prefer to buy really locally - I mean, there's no reason why all the food I eat can't be grown within 10 miles of my house - but for now, just getting things from the same country is an improvement over what I used to buy at Tesco. And a delivery scheme is no less environmentally friendly than me driving the the shops every week - in fact probably more so, as they deliver a whole van-load at a time.