Back in the new year of 2011, when my boyfriend and I decided to get healthy and start eating well and exercising more, I was all gung-ho about researching recipes, cooking every night, and finding new and fun ways to eat healthy. That lasted for a few months, but you can only focus your energy on so many things, and when work gets stressful or your social life gets busy, eating well can fall by the wayside. One of the best ways you can combat this is by having healthy food readily available, so you don’t have to make a quick decision of which takeout place to hit up for dinner. But buying vegetables does take some pre-planning. How long before they go bad? When am I going to eat this? How am I going to cook it?
Enter the CSA basket!
What the heck is that, you ask? Well, CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture,” the standard system for which is a subscription-based delivery of fresh fruits and veggies from local farms. Subscribers pay a fee, or “share” to the farm, and in return get a box of produce delivered to them from the farm. CSAs are great because the produce comes right to your door, it’s organic, and you’re supporting local farmers, which helps the environment!
There are lots of CSAs out there, but a very popular one, and the one I use, is called Farm Fresh to You. They deliver all over California from their farm in the Capay Valley in Northern California. You can choose different size boxes with different combinations of fruit and vegetables and have it delivered at your preferred frequency, every week, every other week, every three weeks, or once a month. You can choose the mixed box, which is the most popular, and has the most seasonal fruit and vegetables just harvested from their network of California farms. They also have their “no cooking” box, which includes only fruits and veggies that can be eaten raw. Quick and easy! They also have “fruit only” and “veggie only” options, and for Northern California they also deliver fresh, organic cage-free or pasture-raised eggs! They also have options for office deliveries which include “snack packs” of fresh fruit and nuts.
I started out getting the regular size Valley box twice a week, which included only produce from their local Capay Valley farms. It felt great to know I was getting super fresh, local, organic produce, and all I had to do was click a button online and wait by the door. Because the Valley box is highly local, you often get a lot of the same items from week to week, so to mix it up I later switched to the regular mixed box, which sources produce from their network of farms all over California to give their customers greater variety. I recently switched to the small mixed box because I have been so busy I haven’t been able to eat all the produce before it starts to go bad (1-2 weeks depending on the item).
Deliveries are usually made in the very early morning, though they have started to deliver the night before sometimes as well, as early as 8pm. Contents for the week’s boxes are posted Fridays on the FFTY website. I like to take a look and start thinking of recipes and ways to use my box contents for the next week. Here’s what I got this week:
They have info on how to store and cook each item, plus recipes!
Throughout the year, there is a lot of variety in the boxes, which is great. Oftentimes I’ll get a vegetable and go, what the heck do I do with this!? It’s great for flexing your creative muscles in the kitchen. But sometimes I’ll get a vegetable I know I don’t like, or my boyfriend declares a particular vegetable inedible. FFTY offers the option to exclude particular fruits and veggies. Right now we exclude parsnips, rutabaga, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. (I like cauliflower but my boyfriend decided, after a few deliveries of it, that he just didn’t like it. Lame.) When an item you exclude is supposed to be included in your box for the week, they’ll swap it out with something similar that’s not on your exclude list – i.e., broccoli for cauliflower.
We’ve been getting our CSA box for almost a year and a half now and it’s become an integral part of my cooking routine. It’s broadened my horizons in terms of the vegetables we eat and the recipes I make. I highly recommend it as a great options for those looking to include more fresh fruits and veggies in their diet.