God Bless the CSAs

While I have been a farmers’ market patron for a while now, last year I raised the bar on eating locally and bought a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription. I’ve written about that here in the past, how I make an “investment” in a local farmer in the winter, and then get my “returns” in the summer in the form of fresh, local produce. But three weeks into the CSA season, I am finding another benefit:

Every week, or at least many times throughout the season, I come home with a vegetable I have never tried, or never liked in the past.

Last year, I struggled with this, especially when I kept getting loads and loads of chard week after week. I didn’t like it any more in the sixth week than I did in the first. And if it had been up to me to select it and purchase it myself, I would never have even tried chard.

This year, however, I have embraced my CSA’s role as a “mother,” encouraging me, the reluctant child, to eat my vegetables. And so far, here’s what I’ve discovered this year:

  • I LIKE TURNIPS! Well, at least the Japanese salad turnips that I roasted with some new potatoes and squash.
  • CURLY ENDIVE IS NOT BELGIAN ENDIVE! When I mentioned that I had received endive in my CSA box, my friend Ann offered me a recipe using Belgian endive. I went for it, even though something didn’t seem quite right about the instructions. I later learned that even though it substituted fairly well for it’s European cousin, curly endive don’t even resemble Belgian endive, in looks or taste.
  • KOHLRABI ISN’T FROM OUTERSPACE. Even though it looks like a spaceship with landing gear. Plus, it adds a nice crunch to stir fries and salads.
  • DON’T CUT THE ENDS OFF BEETS BEFORE YOU BOIL THEM. Unless you want the water to turn to turn red and all the color to leech out. Oh yeah, did I mention that I like beets now? After 39 years?
  • CHARD IS PRETTY, EVEN IF IT DOES TASTE LIKE DIRT. Ok, I’ll keep trying it. Afterall, if it takes 15 times of offering a new food to a child before they will accept it, how many times do you think it will take me? Maybe 30?

You don’t have to subscribe to a CSA to try something new this summer, but you do have to have a sense of adventure. Go on, try an eggplant or some pea shoots. Don’t be afraid to buy that purple pepper or those yellow tomatoes. And, for sure, don’t forget the greens!

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • reply Charity Singleton ,

    Billie — I just found a new way to implement chard that I actually liked! I snuck a little into my zucchini frittata, and it was marvelous! It added just a hint of complexity to the overall flavor, but didn’t leave me feeling like I was eating dirt (which is what happens when I eat it plain)!

    • reply Charity Singleton ,

      Kelly — Thanks for the turnip soup recipe. It sounds great. I think I will like it and plan to try it next time I come across some turnips.

      • reply Charity Singleton ,

        Christy — What are some of the new things you have tried and liked? I’m always looking to expand my vegetable repertoire.

        • reply Charity Singleton ,

          Ann — How did it go at the farmers’ market. Did you find something you had never tried before? What did you get? I would love to try it too!

          • reply Billie ,

            I love beets, after so many years later! I never know what to make with chard except for maybe stir-fry or something similar. I made eggplant for the second time in my life last week! I need to try different vegetables more often. Great post!

            • reply Kelly Langner Sauer ,

              Hi – I wanted to drop by after seeing your comment at HCB today on my Interview – I missed your post there yesterday. THANK YOU for your comment, and it’s so lovely to “meet” you!

              Also, I have this turnip soup recipe that I suspect you might like – it uses cream, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil – you just boil the turnips until they’re soft, puree them with cream, and then cook again, adding the other ingredients and garnishing with olive oil and fresh-ground black pepper at the end. 😉

              I’m totally getting into the farmer’s market thing myself lately. Great photography opportunities, and all that. 😉

              • reply Christy ,

                I don’t use a CSA but I do try to try new things each time I go to a Farmers Market. There are a few that I may never like but at least we tried!

                • reply Ann Kroeker ,

                  Your experience with CSA deliveries (and our discussion with the organic farmer friend we met) has inspired me, as well, to try new foods (and learn to pronounce their names correctly).

                  So tomorrow I’m going to take your advice and buy something else I’ve never tried before or previously disliked.

                  Last week, as you know from offline conversations, I tried kohlrabi and liked it. I tried chard and thought it was so-so.

                  This week I’ll poke around the farmer’s market and see what new items catch my eye.

                  Maybe I’ll even buy a turnip.

                  Maybe.

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