Wow, I must sound really lazy. I do like going to farmer’s markets, and I love shopping for organic produce at Whole Foods, but there is something pretty nice about getting a box of fresh, organic produce delivered to your door each week.
First, the contents of the box is a surprise (if you want to ruin your surprise, you can check the CSA’s website the prior Friday). I quite like it, though - the excitement - it’s very much like opening a Christmas gift. And it challenges you to try new foods and recipes. I love this part, because we normally buy the same dozen or so produce items, and if I venture out of the norm on my own, the new item runs the risk of getting wasted.
And second, it’s a novel luxury that also supports California organic farms. Love that combination.
Anyways, Farm Fresh to You in the Capay Valley called me a few weeks ago to let me know they were now delivering in our area. I signed up immediately, and had a box of produce the following Wednesday. I ordered the smallest box of fruits and vegetables, at $25/week, but they have a ton of different options to choose from. I thought I’d start at the bottom and work up if we needed to. After two deliveries, I think we’re just fine for our family of 3 (And we’re almost 4! Hence the long hiatus from this project!).
Here’s what was in this week’s box: Navel Oranges (2 lb), Eureka Lemons (1.5 lb), Braeburn Apples (2 lb), Bacon Avocadoes (2), White Mushrooms (0.5 lb), Collard Greens (1 bunch), Red Leaf Lettuce (1 bunch) and Leeks (1 lb). Admittedly, we haven’t used the collard greens, and are not quite sure what we’ll do with them yet. But the lettuce - which we don’t buy on a normal basis (I know, we should!) - Dan has made a nice side salad for us each night, and it feels so good to be eating greens regularly. Their leeks are amazing! We made a creamy potato leek soup last week. Ryan loves the apples, and I got Dan to taste a bit of sauteed mushrooms (he hates them currently but we’re working on that).
In the coming weeks, I will try my best to post photos and the recipes we make from our fantastic boxes of fresh produce!
Does anyone belong to a local CSA? Which one? What do you think?
I’ve researched a number of them recently, and am anxious to buy-in, especially if I can get fresh organic produce delivered to my door each week! CSA’s vary so greatly in product variety, price, delivery/pick-up location, that I am just not sure which one (or two!) to go with. At the bottom of the post, I list four local CSA’s, and information on how to subscribe. The pincher with CSA’s (especially with delivery) is that you need to have at least 10 subscribers within the same zip code or neighborhood to get in. SO… if you are at all interested, please submit your interest to the CSA so that more people can join in!
If you’re unfamiliar with CSA’s, here’s a quick run-down. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what they were until about a year ago…
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farm offers a set number of “shares” to the public. The share generally consists of a box of fruit and/or vegetables, and may also include eggs, flowers or meat. Local consumers can purchase a share (or “subscription”) and in return receive a box of seasonal produce at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, etc) throughout the farming season.
CSA offers many benefits for both the consumer and the farm. Some of these may include…
Benefits for farms:
Add another way to market their product, in addition to farmers markets, restaurant sales, etc.
They often receive payments early in the season, helping with the farm’s cash flow
Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Benefits for consumers:
Eat ultra-fresh, often certified organic food
Get exposed to new produce and new ways of cooking
Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food
Here is a list of four local farms with CSA’s. I’m sure there are more of them, but these are the ones most readily accessible.
1. UNDERWOOD FAMILY FARMS currently has 4 CSA programs - Camarillo, Moorpark, VUSD (employees only), and Kaiser Panorama City (employees only). If you can’t participate in one of the current programs, you can submit yourself for a new CSA. Once they receive interest from 10-20 people in your area, they will set up a local delivery point. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. RIO GOZO FARM has two distinct CSA programs, a hands-on CSA where subscribers are welcome to join in chores like planting, weeding and harvesting. The farm is at Highway 150 and the Ventura River. Weekly box pickups of the resulting organic produce take place at The Farmer & the Cook, the cafe/bakery/market in Meiners Oaks.
The second CSA program supported by Rio Gozo Farms is a smaller one, designed to serve 45 Ventura families, with pickup sites at Path Tree Yoga on Palm Street and The Art Barn on Thompson Boulevard.
3. MCGRATH FAMILY FARM has a seasonal farm stand in Camarillo at Central Ave. and the 101, and also offers an organic CSA. Subscribers pick up their produce boxes every Tuesday at the stand.
4. FARM FRESH TO YOU is a family-run farm in the Capay Valley that delivers your produce directly to your door. They just started delivering in the Conejo Valley, and not many areas have enough interest to form a delivery route. Once there are 20 interested families in a zip code, delivery in your area will begin. Email them to submit your interest, or check their website to see if your area already has a delivery route scheduled. The delivery fee is included in your subscription, and subscriptions range from $23-110 per box. Bonus with this CSA: you can choose what’s in your box, and you don’t have to commit to any length of time - one week at a time is fine with them.
Written by Renee, Special Contributor
I recently made an awful discovery…I’m gluten intolerant. Truth be told, I suspected it for a long while, I just didn’t want to give up all of that amazing gluten filled food, so I lived in denial. But then there’s nothing like horrible stomach pain and digestive “issues” to push someone out of denial. For a self-proclaimed “foodie” this was a devastating realization. I know that sounds dramatic, obviously there are many, many more horrendous things…but I’m sure those of you who are faced with the same issue are feeling my pain. No more bread, pasta, brownies, cookies, etc…unless I wish to consume one of the myriad of “gluten-free” alternatives out there. Yes, I’m grateful to be living in a time when there truly are a multitude of options, but so far my foray into those options has, with a few exceptions, been less than appetizing.
Being half Italian and growing up in a family where food (specifically pasta) was love, one of my first priorities was to find gluten-free pasta. I tried Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta with less than happy results. Simply put, it was gummy, regardless of my efforts not to overcook it. I then searched a few blogs and found that several recommended Tinkyada, which is another brown rice pasta. I purchased a bag of fusilli and I carefully followed the cooking instructions (as advised by the bloggers). Sadly, I wasn’t impressed. The texture was a little too soft and the taste was well, like brown rice (what a surprise).
Still on the hunt, I ventured into the Simply Gluten Free Specialty Grocery (behind Roxy’s deli on TO Boulevard), and I asked for a recommendation. The woman told me that there was a brand that was virtually indistinguishable from the real deal. I was in, or at least willing to give it a go. I purchased two packages of Schar (made in Italy…and Europe’s #1 gluten-free pasta!). To my surprise and delight, it was actually very good. Not indistinguishable from the real thing, but good nonetheless. Two minor complaints. Number one, if I’m going to pay nearly 6 bucks for a package of pasta, please give me a full pound! The Schar packages are 12 ounces. Number two, the pasta fell apart a bit when I reheated it to eat as a leftover. All in all, I’m loving my Schar pasta and I’m bellyache free!
Stay tuned for quest #2…best gluten-free brownie!
I like eating healthy, but find it difficult to do all the time because I just don’t crave all that healthy stuff, like wheat and greens and apparently, quinoa (disasterous quinoa experience the other night, I’ll try it again later). So I’ve developed a few tricks to fool myself into eating better on a regular basis. I keep healthy staples on-hand (and very few no-no items) and put them together in ways that do taste delicious to me. Here are my tricks, hope you can use them.
1. I keep greens around. I feel too guilty to let them go bad (though there are some weeks I let it slip), so I force myself to whip together a small salad for lunch. Here’s my favorite salad combo that’s super easy to make and really tastes great. Sub any of the items for your favorite type of greenery, nut, fruit, soft cheese, etc.
Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
Dried tart cherries
Sesame Miso Dressing (or any dressing on the healthier side - you know, low-cholesterol, low-fat, etc.) This particular miso dressing, by Follow Your Heart, is also preservative and dairy-free, and tastes like it has bacon in it, it’s so delicious.
2. I make snack mixes, aka trail mixes. Dan loves these and so does Ryan. I follow suit, because I eat what I’m making them for snack!
Easy Snack Mix
unsalted, unsweetened nuts
unsweeted dried fruit
plain or multi-grain cheerio-type cereal
and because you need a little sweetness, a few chocolate chips (dark are healthier) or Annie’s Bunny Graham Friends
Each year our backyard gets a little better, and I can’t wait for another 5 years when it’s full and lush and we’re growing all of our own produce :). That will never happen but it would be nice, right?
Take a look at some of our spring crops - old german heirloom tomatoes, cilantro (and its seeds, coriander), green and red grapes, yellow bell peppers, chives, strawberries and lemons. I’m hoping the pear tree fruits next year.