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!