Adventures in CSA (week 7): Just as I suspected…

…this week’s box was definitely cheaper through the CSA than at the store. Some of that was clearly due to the contents (asian pears tend to have that effect, given that they cost $2 apiece at our store), but some of it was because there was just so much stuff in the box this week.

Week 7 CSA
Grocery Store Unit Price
(per lb)
Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Bok Choi 2.88 $1.29 $3.71
Collard Greens 0.76 $0.99 $0.75
Radishes 2.00 $0.99 $1.98
Yellow Onions 0.45 $1.49 $0.68
Carrots 1.88 $0.99 $1.86
Parsnips 1.31 $2.49 $3.27
Empire Apples 1.77 $1.59 $2.82
Asian Pears 2.00 $2.00 $4.00
Acorn Squash 0.09 $0.99 $0.09
Italian Eggplant* 0.38 $1.79 $0.69
Sweet Potatoes 1.05 $1.29 $1.36
Red Potatoes 0.95 $1.49 $1.41
New Potatoes 0.93 $2.66 $2.47
Grocery Store Total Cost $25.09
Week 7 Savings (Deficit) $5.09
Program-to-Date Savings (Deficit) $20.39
* Items were not available; closest equivalent was used.

At this point, given our current savings, we’re already ahead enough that I can see quite a lot of value from this particular CSA program – we’re getting local veggies for less than what we’d pay to buy them at the store (trucked in from farms both near and far). I’m not sure that we’ll see the same value from the winter CSA that kicks up in two weeks, but we’ll have to see. As a complete fluke of timing, the first box from that CSA will arrive only a few days after the last box from this current subscription. D’oh!!

Only a couple of the items on this list have been used up or are spoken for – the eggplant was used (recipe coming tomorrow!), the bok choi was half-used last night (another recipe coming!) and will get completely used up tomorrow, and we have some plans for the potatoes for tonight – probably just baking some potato crisps.

It also helps that a lot of the winter stuff *keeps*, so you don’t suffer massive loss if you don’t get to use everything up in a given week. Apples, potatoes, onions, etc. all generally can last for a while if kept properly, and that allows us to stretch things out a bit. It is a bit funny to plan this week’s meals (leaning heavily on the crock pot, since I’m at a conference four out of five days and dh has a big all-day meeting scheduled for two or three of the same days)…none of what we came up with really makes a dent in the CSA box. In other words, we still have a long way to go.

Some of it is also a cost issue – I can easily take carrots, parsnips and onions and toss them in a crock pot with a roast – but the roast would cost a ton more than the other ingredients. I cringe at the price of beef most days (not to mention the nutritional content), so I try to limit it. We do have pork roasts a few times a year, which is slightly cheaper, but it’s still another case of “holy cow is that expensive – and why is it so much fattier than I want?!” The one way that we found to save money on pork loins is to buy the big 10lb loin from BJ’s and then cut it into three equal parts, storing the one(s) we don’t need for the week in the freezer. It slashes the price of the meat and ensures that we have it in the house for when we need it (assuming we remember to take it out a few days early to thaw).

And again, we come back to the delicate balance between cost and nutrition. I can’t imagine making this my crusade; as one person, I feel like I have zero standing to yell at Big Farm, the USDA, and the FDA with enough authority that they’d actually listen. As a working mom, I wish it were easier; hopefully as I get more experience with CSA-based/influenced cooking, the entire process will be simpler and I’ll feel like I can do this balancing act without flailing my arms in the air all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *