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    8 Lessons I’ve learned from my CSA

    veggie CSA lasagna
    Veggie CSA lasagna

    With 2 shares to go, I’ve endured 20 weeks of overflowing, fresh, local veggies in my fridge. Sharing a Red Earth Farm CSA share with two of my BFF’s was one of the best decisions I made!

    Unsure about the locavore experience or new to CSAs? Here are 8 things I learned from my experience:

    1. Veggies you never heard of aren’t as scary as they sound. I never knew what to do with Kale, Okra, dandelion greens or kohlrabi before. Sure, I’ve heard of these foreign plants and seen them on menus before. But luckily we live in the age where the internet is at our fingertips, and I’ve been able to create some delicious treats simply from typing in “X” and “recipe” into my friend Google. You’ll be amazed at the creative recipes & tips in  blogs, forums & more.
    2. I’ve gotten way more creative with my recipes. This is coming from a girl who tried making meals of hummus & pita 3 x’s per week to eating 5 variations of Mexican each month. Now, I’m psyched to try different dishes and prepare different CSA recipes.
    3. You spend a lot less money eating out. When you’re given an abundance of healthy, fresh, local CSA produce on a weekly basis, you absolutely hate throwing any of it away.  I’ve ducked out of unhealthy bar foods after softball or an HH in lieu of going home and eating my own organic feast.
    4. You save money! My CSA share came to $9/week for veggies. Although I’d occasionally buy supplements (grains, spices, etc) to make meals, no $25 Whole Foods (or Farmers Market) bill for the week!
    5. kale & cabbage CSA recipe
      Kale & Cabbage CSA Side

      Even Kale needs some loving. Or at least a good massage. When I wanted to make a kale salad, I wasn’t sure how to take the “roughness’ out of kale to do so. The Googleverse recommended to give the kale a ‘massage’ with dressings to take out the roughness & bring out the natural oils. Although my coworker debates that kale likes a good deep tissue, I prefer giving a Swedish touch.

    6. You may want to skip the CSA fruit share. I spent an extra $100 for  fresh fruits and have been slightly disappointed with the lack of variety. If you prefer a variety of fresh fruits during the summer, I’d recommend farmers markets instead.
    7. Planning (and flexibility) is essential. It’s better to find a recipe that uses a few of the items in one (like a stir fry, ratatouille or pasta/veggie combo) instead of trying to knock out one item at a time. Plus, it’s helpful to make a few substitutes and use a lot more from your fridge.
    8. Bugs happen. Whether your roommate bites into a worm or you have to wash a bug or two from your kale, produce may be ‘flawed’. Deal with it – you’re not getting unhealthy chemicals and pesticides.

    CSA newbies or experts, what have you learned from participating in a CSA? Any Buddha-like knowledge?

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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