Guest Post: The Pre-CSA Mindset

Allow me to introduce myself: I am a loyal localvore and new Lost Barn Farm CSA subscriber who has been invited to share my experience with the weekly CSA share boxes--what we got, and what I cooked with it. (I'll choose to remain anonymous for now, but perhaps one day my identity will be revealed!)

When Marisa offered me this space on her blog, I realized that I actually have more than recipes to share with readers-- I have the unique perspective of a long-time CSA supporter, who has had some pretty disappointing experiences. (Note: this is my first year as a Lost Barn CSA member.) Let me explain.

A bundle of Turnip Greens in your CSA box-- source of joy, or source of stress? Now is the time to decide!

A bundle of Turnip Greens in your CSA box-- source of joy, or source of stress? Now is the time to decide!

CSAs represent more than just a financial commitment-- they are a promise to eat a large amount of fresh, local produce on a weekly basis. That may sound wonderful on paper, but the reality is that you, as a cook, have to change the way that you shop and plan for meals, before you even pick up your box for the week. 

Old habits being hard to break, here are some tips on how to avoid "CSA guilt," or the act of composting a large percentage of your weekly box of veggies:

  1. Share day is processing day: When choosing which day of the week to pick up your box, just know that you'll need to put all that fresh food into storage as soon as you get home. And that means more than simply unloading your box straight into the fridge! All vegetables have their preferred methods of storage, and in order to prolong their shelf life, you'll want to learn them all. (This website is a great resource for that!) 
  2. Invest in a salad spinner: Let's face it, folks,CSAs in Vermont come with a lot of greens. Which is great news for your health-- leafy greens contain lots of vitamins and fiber, and you'll probably live longer if you eat bushels of them.  But if you're going to get the most out of your share, you've got to wash those tender lettuces and spicy greens before you put them in the crisper. And if you store them wet, you're asking for a soggy mess within days. So if you don't already own one, invest in a good salad spinner. It should cost about 25 bucks, and it will last for years. The best part, though? Your greens will be washed and ready to use, right out of the fridge!
  3. Learn the art of the substitution: Trying out new foods doesn't mean that every meal will send you out into uncharted territory. So for example, rather than ask, "How do you cook kohlrabi?" try thinking, "How can I add kohlrabi to something that I already like?" This will make it much easier for you to incorporate new veggies into your diet. And if you need inspiration for using your share of veggies, Marisa has started a library of CSA recipes to help you out. (My recommendation for kohlrabi, by the way, is to shred some into your coleslaw!)

Stinging Nettles are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet! Here is a link to some great recipes using this wild spring edible.

Stinging Nettles are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet! Here is a link to some great recipes using this wild spring edible.

Share pickup starts this week! I hope you continue to check back here on the blog, to see what I've cooked up with our weekly share of Lost Barn Farm bounty. And always feel free to leave your great recipe ideas in the comments. Bon Appetit!