This week was an odd one. Having been uninspired by the option in the box offered by the farm this week, we decided to invoke the privilege of NOT purchasing a box. I figured that I would first try to construct my own box from the grocery store, since that’s what most people have access to. I set about with some basic rules:
- Must not cost more than $22 total
- Must have at least six items
- Must not have items already needed/planned for a meal
- Must contain at least one item that’s new to me (or that we have had only infrequently, at best)
- Must be items grown within the US (preferably New England, to keep it regional)
I’m pleased to say that I managed to do all of the following, including keeping everything to produce grown within Massachusetts! All but one of the items we picked out came from our local farm (the same one that does the CSA we’ve been ordering for the last few weeks), and the other item came from a farm on the other end of the state, out in Western MA. I will say that going to one of our local grocery stores was terribly disappointing. Not only did they not have any indication of the specific source for their fruits and veggies (unless marked in packaging, things were marked only for their country of origin), but they didn’t have anything other than squash from even a regional farm (and that was across the border, in Rhode Island).
When I talked with one of the produce guys who was stocking the area during my trip through that grocery store, he said that they hadn’t even been contacted by any local farms yet. I will note that this isn’t the store I typically do all of my week’s shopping in, but it’s a major chain and it’s a full-size store. Furthermore, when I went to one of their other stores that’s also nearby, I saw fruit tagged “Local!” and noted that the label said it was from New Jersey. OK, same coast, but NOT LOCAL, GUYS.
DH wanted us to give the farmstand a chance to provide a more interesting variety than what they were putting in their box, and I’m glad he pushed for that. They had a whole section that was just their stuff, and they clearly marked what was theirs versus what was from other local/regional farms versus what was from out of the area or country. Clear, easy-to-understand labeling really is a must if you’re going to try to understand where ANY of your food comes from, especially when it’s fresh produce.
So, here’s what I got:
|Year 2 – Summer Week 3 (Make Your Own)|
|Farmstand Unit Price (per lb)||Farmstand Total Item Cost|
|Fancy Summer Squash||1.04||$2.19||$2.28|
|Golden Beets (bunch)||1.00||$1.75||$1.75|
|Red Beets (bunch)||1.00||$2.99||$2.99|
|Cherry Tomatoes (1/2 pint)||1.00||$2.95||$2.95|
|Gooseberries (1/2 pint)||1.00||$4.99||$4.99|
|Farmstand Total Cost||$21.10|
The cherry tomatoes are the first of the season from our farm and they are always OUTSTANDING. As it happens, between me and dd, it’s unlikely that they’ll last the night. The fancy summer squash, wax beans and gooseberries are all “new to us” items that we’re excited to try. The summer squash may get grilled, the wax beans will surely be steamed, and the gooseberries (thus far) have been eaten plain. They’ve got a really bizarre-looking inside and the one I tried seemed like a grape, only a little more tart. It’ll be interesting to see how this MYO box process works for the week. We went with some items that we’re familiar with, like the beets, tomatoes and blueberries, and we branched out a little, too.
With some careful selection, we were able to purchase only local items (I consider Western MA local, since it’s within the same state), and we managed to get a decent selection of colorful, fresh produce within the budget I’d set. If this works out well enough, we’ll repeat it on any future weeks where we have a similar lack of excitement over the pre-selected box. Hopefully, it’ll also inspire others to consider trying their own MYO-CSA project. Supporting local agriculture and feeding yourself fresh fruits & veggies at the same time…it’s a win-win!