Farm-Fresh Fare Comes a’Knockin’

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Fresh veggies!

No, this isn't a joke. This is a very simplified example of a service that has been gaining in popularity over the last 25 years: community-supported agriculture (CSA). According to the website LocalHarvest, it is a way for consumers to “buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.”

The gist is, you buy a subscription to a CSA of your choice, and a box of the current season's produce arrives at a pick-up site of your choosing. You arrive at the site within a given time frame and leave with a hefty box of goodies.

Prices vary based on the CSA, and many offer discounts for people who buy a lump subscription as opposed to paying weekly. A few programs even give members some choice in what veggies they will receive.

First-year medical student Matthew Nordstrom, is a strong advocate of his CSA, Full Belly Farm, which is a larger organization that coordinates CSA farms all over Northern California.

At first, he said, he and his girlfriend had trouble with the amount of produce that they received, but they came up with a clever method of maintaining the fresh taste of their delivery for the whole week.

“One night, just cook everything, not just the amount you need for dinner that night,” said Nordstrom. His example was kale. He can use the cooked kale for other meals throughout the week, and cooking it right away prevents it from wilting.

Not that this produce needs dressing up. “I just eat the broccoli steamed plain, no butter or salt,” he said. “It tastes so much better than what you can get at the store, it doesn't need anything.”

Anne Montgomery, a first-year medical student who has subscribed to the Terra Firma Farms CSA since August, couldn’t agree more. “Starting school, I knew that I was going to be on a tighter budget and cooking at home more often. I figured that the variety and regularity would encourage me to get creative and cook. I also like the idea of eating what is in season and grown locally.”

She says that not being able to choose the exact contents of her delivery has forced her to expand her cooking repertoire in a good way and that, “it has encouraged me to eat healthier, because I eat at home more often and usually base my recipes on a vegetable rather than a meat or starch.”

Her favorite way to prep her pick-up? Soups! Simple, savory and easily stored for dinners throughout the week.

Imagine, instead of the high-calorie, high-fat food most Americans think of as delivery, you receive the freshest produce, loaded with vitamins and more flavor than your average grocery-store produce.