To CSA or not to CSA

Over on the blogs at All About Women, Zee is talking about her frustration with her husband’s penchant for buying canned vegetables. She notes that some canned vegetables are okay for certain things, but she prefers to serve more fresh ones–and she’s enlisting her family members to make it happen.

It’s a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately because I’ve been debating about whether to sign up for a CSA share again this year.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, CSA stands for ‘community supported agriculture.’ It’s a way for people like me to buy fresh produce from local farmers, and it’s a win-win for us both. The farmer gets more business, and I get veggies and fruit that are a whole lot fresher than the stuff at the grocery store that’s been trucked in from halfway across the country. And there are a fair number of Nashville-area farms to choose from, too, which is nice. Delvin Farms and Avalon Acres are among the best known–and for good reason–but my sources tell me that some of the other ones are excellent, too.

But there is a dilemma.

Two years ago, I signed up to split a CSA share with my friends, the Pearsons. Neither family was certain that they could use up an entire share, especially in the early weeks when it’s All Kale All The Time. So we decided to split one and see how it went. the Pearsons picked up our share each Sunday at a local church and divided it in half. Then we picked up our portion from their house.

There were a few weeks when I had to get really creative so as not to let all the lettuce we received rot in huge bunches in the fridge–hey, why not have a BLT for breakfast, right?–but overall, it turned out pretty well…until I got pregnant mid-summer. Suddenly I could barely stand to look at leafy green veggies, let alone (gulp) eat any. Given how intensely nauseated I was, I wasn’t especially motivated to cook or prepare much in the way of fresh food (heck, any food) for my family, either. Most of our veggies shriveled up and got tossed out. By August, it was almost pointless to even continue picking up our split of the share.

So here we are, two years later. My friends said they might be willing to do it again this year with us, if we’re interested. So I’ve been mulling it over. Do I sign up for a half-share again? Can I keep up with the lettuce and the kale this year? (Will my kids eat lettuce and kale this year? Will my husband and I want to eat that much lettuce and kale this year?) Should I just take my chances with the fruit stand down the road this year, like I did last year, and hope that the owner sells those ridiculously good heirloom tomatoes that made me get all giddy? Should I do both?

Probably I should do both. We could all stand to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables–in greater varieties, too. I’m just leery about having to throw out the stuff that we can’t or don’t use. I hate wasting food, but I’m not always sure what to do with some of it, you know? Perhaps that should be my goal: learn new ways to work with the produce that I’m not quite sure how to handle. Maybe this will be the year that I finally break down and make kale chips. And, uh, other things with kale. And lettuce.

Is there an app for that?


About jenniferlarsonwrites

I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College. I'm a born-and-bred Southerner who spent a few years in Southern California, a rabid baseball fan and a would-be grower of tomatoes. You can also visit me at LinkedIn or on Twitter at @JenniferLarson.
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3 Responses to To CSA or not to CSA

  1. Shab says:

    Oh…my kids ate up the kale chips when I made them! Um, maybe not Daryoosh…he may have been too young. We sat out this year too, but I think next year we’re getting back into it.

    Oohh…for lettuce, if you make basmati rice persian style (ok, it’s a process, but it’s yummy…) you can put lettuce under your rice with some oil and as it steams you get a nice yummy crust. We usually do it with potatoes or thin lavash bread (it’s called tah-dig) but lettuce works too.

    Santi doesn’t eat salad so the lettuce gets to be a bit much for us too. We typically do a half-share so we pick up every other week. I think I’ve convinced myself to get back into it this year (if only to stay out of whole foods where I could easily spend my entire paycheck!). 🙂

  2. Brian says:

    How about this: you are good to go with a CSA half-share if you can commit to composting. That way, you won’t feel as bad if you don’t use all the produce — it just goes back to the earth.
    What do you think?

  3. jenniferlarsonwrites says:

    Argh. I don’t have a compost pile. My MIL does, but I don’t see myself toting leftover food to her house just to compost it. I’ve heard that you can buy compost bins, so you don’t have to just have a big pile of compost sitting out in your yard, attracting animals, and maybe I should look into that.

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