Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 9): MYOB encore

This week’s return to the Make-Your-Own-Box (MYOB) plan is brought to you by the letters “O” for “Oops” and “E” for “Enh”. The “Oops” relates to my having remembered on Thursday morning that we didn’t place an order by Wednesday night. D’oh! The “Enh” relates to what I saw when I looked at the list of items included in this week’s box. Sure ’nuff, there were some great things, like 8 ears of sweet corn, but they were also throwing in a bunch of hot peppers – and the kids aren’t yet up on the same amount of spice that we like.

I don’t see this as the worst thing in the world; there’s a certain satisfaction to be had from bringing the kids into the farmstand and letting them help decide what will go into the cart. The more excited they are to eat, and the more invested they are in the food decisions, the likelier they are to want to eat the food…or so the theory goes.

To keep things simple, I pointed out the items that were clearly marked as being from the farm; that was the bulk of what they had to offer right now, anyway (apart from any citrus, which is always coming from out of state). This week’s haul:

Adventures in CSA Year 2 Week 9 MYOB

Lush color = luscious food

Year 2 – Summer Week 9 (Make Your Own)
Farmstand Unit Price
(per lb)
Farmstand Total Item Cost
Corn 6.00 $0.58 $3.50
Wax Beans (large) 0.69 $2.49 $1.72
Green Pepper 0.72 $1.99 $1.43
Raspberries (half-pint) 1.00 $4.50 $4.50
Currants (half-pint) 1.00 $2.59 $2.59
Cherry Tomatoes (pint) 1.00 $3.50 $3.50
Grapes (quart) 1.00 $5.99 $5.99
Farmstand Total Cost $23.23

Now, you’ll probably notice that I WENT OVER THE LIMIT OF $22.00! (cue forbidding music and potential influx of ninja warriors to cut up my debit card with a sword) Here’s the issue, and I’ll leave it at this set of excuses:

  1. For whatever reason, Friday afternoon was THE time to be at the farmstand and it was packed with people. Thus, it was hard to get things sorted out easily with two small kids while trying NOT to be in the way.
  2. The farmstand, God love ’em, doesn’t appear to have a scale that’s accessible to shoppers, so it’s hard to tell how much you’ve purchased. I tried to keep a running tally on my iPhone, but I didn’t have a way to measure the weight of the items that were priced by the pound. Of course, it also didn’t hep that the kids were aiming for the more expensive items, like the grapes, but if the biggest problem that I have is that my kids like to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, I’d say there are probably plenty of people who’d like to have that kind of “problem” themselves.
  3. I was in a hurry. We still needed to hit up the fishmonger (who sets up outside the farmstand every Friday afternoon) to get some scallops before we headed home and started getting the corn on.

So, we have an overage. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! But it’ll all work out in the end. Why? Because it’s only $1.23, and it’s worth it when you taste the difference. I know it’s impossible to express this properly over a web page, but if you can get fresh stuff straight from the source, boy, is there a world of difference. I will note that the raspberries are the only one item that did NOT originate at this particular farm. However, they came from another farm elsewhere in Massachusetts, so I consider that local enough for my purposes.

Now, the only tricky item in this list is the one I never cooked with before: the currants. I haven’t dug through all of my cookbooks yet to see what the options are (aside from “heating and making into a sauce for meat”), so I’m curious as to what these currants will turn into. And I’m really hoping they turn into something tasty before they end up being “that thing I really wanted to try and never got to before it went bad.” Any suggestions for currants, folks??

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 8): Weekend challenge well met!

So, as I noted when I listed off what was in this week’s box, I really wanted to see how much of the fruit and veg we could go through in a single weekend. I can’t say we polished off the entire box, but we certainly made a running start at it.

For one thing, the corn, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber made for an excellent set of additions to the pasta salad recipe I’ll post later this week. Second, the peppers went in a flash at the party (and leftovers were quickly gobbled up by the kids at dinner last night). Third, we got to the Melon Sunday (we had so much food out at the party on Saturday that more fruit would’ve been overkill), and it was very tasty and completely too much for us to kick all on our own in a single day. The blueberries are still in the fridge, as well, due to the fact that the grapes (not part of the CSA box) made the bigger impression on everyone. The grapes from our farm are tiny green grapes (sometimes trending towards a slight red), and they have thicker than usual skins encompassing a squishy fleshy orb. They have a tart flavor that I’ve never encountered in other grapes, and ds was eating them by the handful this morning (as was I).

Everything that we put out on the table that derived from our farm, including their pickled garlic and pickled asparagus (also not part of the CSA box), got rave reviews. It was a nice thing to be able to point to more than half the table and say, “That’s local” (even the tzadziki my sister brought was made with tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden, along with locally-produced yogurt). Of course, I’m still not ready to go full-on locavore (I just don’t have the energy to make it my life’s passion), but I love that we’re able to find a balance point between the reality of our busy lives and the hope that we can eat from a more environmentally-palatable, locally-sustaining supply chain.

So, looking at this week’s tally, it’s fantastic to see that the veggie box not only yielded lots of compliments but also yielded a savings. Fantastic!


Year 2 – Summer Week 8
Grocery Store Unit Price
(per lb)
Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Purple Pepper 0.29 $3.49 $1.01
Sweet Green Pepper 0.21 $3.99 $0.84
Purple Potatoes 1.69 $1.49 $2.51
Blueberries (1/2 pint) 1.00 $2.50 $2.50
Cucumbers (each) 2.00 $0.99 $1.98
Cherry Tomatoes (pint) 1.00 $3.99 $3.99
Melon 5.13 $0.99 $5.08
Field Tomatoes 1.09 $2.99 $3.25
Corn (ears) 6.00 $0.60 $3.60
Grocery Store Total Cost $24.76
Year 2 Summer Week 8 Savings (Deficit) $2.76

The melon clearly had a hand in keeping us in the black this week; that sucker weighed over 5lbs, and it’s really yummy stuff. Also, rather randomly, the price of corn is increasing. Since this is LOCALLY produced corn that they offer at our grocery store (although not as local as what we get at the farmstand, which is grown AT that farm), the drought sweeping the nation shouldn’t be affecting the prices that much, eh? Given that it jumped 20%, I’m glad to see that corn is still relatively cheap. A jump of 20% on more expensive items, like peppers, would probably start to hurt. And I remember seeing seasonality and odd price swings last year, especially in things like beets, so I’m curious to see whether the corn price stays up from this point forward.

So far, overall, I’m up nearly $2.50 for the season. Of course, that’s small change…but when you factor in the lack of truck fuel and exhaust to bring the fruits and veggies to the store (since I’m buying instead from the farm where the stuff is grown), the overall financial impact is greater. Additionally, the more my farm sells, the more likely they are to stay in business, and there should be some measure of property tax coming from them back to my town. The grocery store where I tend to do my regular grocery shopping is one town over, so my town gets NO financial benefit from them if I give them more business.

It all adds up…it’s just a matter of how you want to look at it. And, to be frank, the quality of what I get from the farm so vastly outweighs what I get at the grocery store, it’s not even funny. The cherry tomatoes are the perfect example, where what I get at the grocery store is practically cardboard by comparison. When you put together the farm-fresh veggies, the preparation can also be infinitely smaller since you need to do so much less to it in order to get flavor from it.

OK – off the soapbox. I love being a CSA purchaser, but I know it’s not for everyone. But for those on the fence, really – GIVE IT A TRY. If you don’t like it, I get that. But if you DO like it, you’ll just be ever so glad you gave it that shot.

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 8): Weekend challenge

{I was at the BlogHer ’12 conference last weekend, so we didn’t order the veggie box last week, in case anybody starts to wonder “What happened to week 7…?”}

With ds turning 3 years old today and dh doing another triathlon on Sunday, our weekend was thrown into a complete tailspin. So, when I texted dh a few days ago (while he was 2000mi away for work) and said, “I want the veggie box this week!” I think he thought I was out of my not-locally-grown gourd. I tried swaying him with the enticements of “Melon” (no specificity, just MELON), blueberries, the ever-delectable cherry tomatoes, etc., and he just wasn’t having it. He was meh all the way, mostly because he was afraid that we wouldn’t go through it.

Then I said, “but we’re going to get CORN!” (and we really LOVE the sweet corn from our farm). Again, the meh, followed this time by his insistence that we won’t be eating it right away since our family tradition is to have my parents over on the Friday night of the weekend when they’re visiting and order take-out from our local, truly wonderful, Chinese joint right up the street. “AHA!”, I said. “LET’S GRILL THE CORN!!” I could hear the shrugging over SMS, but he relented, and thus was born what I’m terming a weekend challenge: I’d like to see just how much of the veggie box we can go through in one weekend, given that we’re having company over for a birthday party.

Thankfully, this week’s box is packed with things that are well-loved in our household. And, since I already had my heart set on getting that corn grilled, I now have a good use for the cucumbers. FINALLY. My sister also has some cukes, from her own garden, and she’s whipping up a batch of tzadziki to share with everyone. Since dh & I both love Greek food, this should make for a nice accompaniment to the salad I’m going to whip up (the recipe will be shared later, assuming it comes out tasty).

Year 2 Week 8 Veggie Box

Purple potatoes AND a purple pepper…?! AWESOME!

So, here’s what we got:

  • Field Tomatoes
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Melon
  • Blueberries
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers

As of writing this post, I have not yet cut into “Melon” but once I have, I will try to ID it and be specific in terms of pricing it out. All I know is that the skin has an orangish hue that suggests canteloupe, but its size and skin texture don’t really match, so “Melon” is a bit of an enigma to me right now. Since I also picked up some grapes from the farm (grown in the trellises that hang over one of the walkways into the farmstand), I’m probably going to make up a fruit plate or fruit salad. These grapes don’t taste like regular ones from the grocery store and I can’t for the life of me come up with a suitable comparison.

It’s much like with the cherry tomatoes; the red ones I got from the grocery store last weekend (when in a rush), were red flavorless little oblong things. The cherry tomatoes I got today from the farm, in shades of red, orange and yellow, are like eating candy. Then again, the fabulous orange cherry tomatoes dropped off by a friend who lives in town (and who also frequents the farmstand) were luscious little things that made it clear that the ones I got from the grocery store must be the tomato equivalent of packing peanuts. Clearly, growing your own or buying from a farm just gets you a superior flavor. (And we have full-sun problems with the layout of our land that make it difficult to grow tomatoes. The one set of tomato plants we have going in buckets were ravaged by some passing deer, and there’s one solitary tomato left, hoping to live to see its way to the insides of our bellies in a few weeks. Fingers are very much crossed.)

And so this is where the “value” of the purchasing from the farm versus the grocery store just can’t capture the true value of buying higher-quality produce. As I discussed with my mother last night, I know we’re lucky, living in a town with both a working farm AND a working dairy, so I realize what I have isn’t available to everyone. I lament that somewhat, but hopefully those who are interested will at least dip a toe in the water by finding a regional farm, farmer’s market, or some other means of getting fresher, local produce. The quality difference can be really immense, before you even get to the additional benefits of lessened environmental impact, heightened boost for the local economy, etc.

So, back to the idea of using as much of it as possible in one weekend…I think it’s fairly likely we can do it. The Melon, blueberries, and grapes will end up as part of some kind of fruit salad or assortment. The corn is planned to go on the grill and end up in a salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. The sweet peppers be sliced and go out on the table to be demolished quickly by the kids (who will each go through an entire pepper in a single sitting, if you let them). Really, the only thing likely to make it through the weekend is the potatoes, since we still have some purple potatoes left over from a prior veggie box. Should the weather head south, I can always make a metric ton of purple potato chips for everybody. I’d hate to heat the house like that, running the oven in the middle of August, but I’m not above it if the weather isn’t conducive to grilling dinner. Again, fingers crossed.

Price comparison will go up either Sunday or Monday, so stay tuned…