Veggie Tales

June 25, 2009

csabox_120x120Everywhere you read, the experts agree: eat more vegetables. The more colors you can eat daily, the better. One way I’ve found to bring an amazing variety of fresh, organic vegetables into our routine is by joining a CSA. What’s a CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and there’s probably one near you. These groups essentially allow you to support a farm, and reap the fruits of the farmer’s labor. You pay a price up front, and you share in the bounty of the harvest. In the cities, they usually pick the food, load it onto a truck and deliver it to a central distribution place once every week.

We joined the West Village CSA for the first time this year, and we love it.  The season runs from early June to Thanksgiving, and the food is in season and freshly picked, meaning it tastes better than what you buy in the market. So far we’ve gotten things like spinach, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, sage, oregano, chives, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, arugula, radishes, summer squash and napa cabbage. We’ve gotten some items I had never cooked before, like garlic scapes, escarole and mizuna. It has forced me to seek out new recipes and think about how I can incorporate these items into the week’s menus. (Last night I made a delicious Chinese Chicken Salad with the napa cabbage; tonight was escarole and white bean soup.) We somehow feel healthier and I feel proud that it has expanded my culinary horizons.

So how can you get in on the action? First, find a CSA near you. This site can help you: localharvest.org. Don’t get turned off if there is a waitlist. I thought about joining this year in February, but the West Village CSA was full. I put my name on the waitlist, and at the end of May I got a call telling me there was a spot open if I wanted it.

A few things to remember:

— It’s a lot of vegetables, so if you’re single or a smaller family, you may want to find someone to split the share with. And it’s there every week even if you’re not, so you’ll need to get someone to pick up your share on the weeks you’re away.

— Most CSAs require members to work a certain amount of hours for the season. (For ours it’s six.) This usually means helping with the distribution.

— As Austin would say, you get what you get and you don’t get upset. There’s no choosing. Ours does have a swap table where people trade items, or you can gift things you won’t use to grateful friends and family.

— Most CSAs offer fruit shares as well. These usually start later in the summer. I didn’t sign up this year because I wanted to try it out with the vegetables and see how we liked it. But I think I will add the fruit share next year. Ours offers a coffee share as well.

I did the math and it comes out to about $19 a week. If I had to buy what I get at Whole Foods, it would definitely be over $30, so it’s definitely cost effective. If you aspire to buy locally, if you want to support small farmers, and if you’ve committed to eating more veggies, a CSA is for you!

Good Day Governor!

This South Carolina governor story gets stranger and stranger. And something tells me that there are weirder things to come. When he was standing at the press conference and he just kept going on and on, I was like, “Get the hook and save him from himself!” I really have to shake my head when these sanctimonious, holier-than-thou politicians (and there have been a lot of them) do something stupid to reveal how mortal they are. People in glass houses…

Gallic Treats

Last week Ken and I tried Bar Breton, a casual French restaurant in the Flatiron. It was good and the waitstaff was very friendly, particularly the bus boy who was by far the best bus boy ever. (I know that’s a weird thing to say but the guy was so on it and persistent in making sure we had a nice meal. We both commented on his efforts.) A highlight of the menu is the galettes, which are essentially buckwheat crepes filled with all kinds of delicious things. We had one filled with crabmeat as an appetizer. Ken had mussels and I had salmon and there was a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Very satisfying! (254 Fifth Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets)

Etc.

My parents were here today taking care of the kids because our nanny needed the day off. They took the kids to the Shake Shack for lunch and they had a milkshake, and then they both had birthday parties this afternoon so they had cake, ice cream and assorted other treats. They are definitely not used to all the sugar and I think they were wired tonight! We finally got them to sleep.

The streak continues with the rain. What I find most annoying is the weather turns so quickly. You think it’s going to be nice and then — bam! — the rain starts falling. Or it seemed really hot and humid and now I am sitting by an open window and it feels chilly. This is what makes everyone sick.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if all significant others knew how to give amazing foot massages on command?

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