The Pros and Cons of a CSA Share

Hi friends!  Hope your day is starting out well.  This morning I went to a TERRIBLE spinning class, but we won’t talk about that.  Instead, let’s talk about vegetables.

I’ve had my CSA share for about a month now.

Overall I’d say it’s been great.  Here in Ithaca, having a CSA share is pretty common, but I know in other places it’s not.  So why not do some pros and cons. Feel free to chime in with some comments!

Cons:

1. My salad spinner is my new best friend.

With a CSA you don’t have the luxury of packaged/pre-washed vegetables.  Preparing things takes a bit longer as everything has to be washed, trimmed, chopped, etc.

2.  No more green monsters everyday.

I haven’t gotten any spinach in my share so I’ve been going through green monster withdrawal.  I actually went to the grocery store at one point this month ONLY to buy spinach so I could make a green monster.  I tried it with JUST kale, it was NOT good.

So sometimes you miss certain vegetables.  I also haven’t had a carrot since May even though I used to have one every day.  But I have plenty of other vegetable options.

3.  Eat cautiously.

Because the veggies are so fresh and haven’t traveled far, I’ve found my fair share of worms in my lettuce.  Some would see this as horrible, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal.  If anything, it’s a marker of freshness.

Added bonus: helps me slow down (as I tend to eat very quickly) when I have to inspect each bite 🙂

4.  Somewhat pricey?  I’m torn on this one.  My share ends up costing $19 per week.  For that amount, I have unlimited local organic vegetables.  For one person, that might be a lot but I think if I bought the same stuff (entirely local and organic) at the grocery store it would probably cost more.

Pros:

1.  Supporting local agriculture.  You can feel good about yourself… or something.

2.  Plenty of organic vegetables!

Having a CSA share has definitely made me increase my vegetable intake.  Since I don’t have the heart to throw anything away, I eat a huge bag of vegetables each week usually something to the effect of: 2-3 bunches of kale, 1 head of lettuce, a kohlrabi, some broccoli and a cucumber.  Kind of a lot.

3.  Forces you to get creative.  A lot of times, you’ve never heard of a vegetable that’s in your share (check out my first experience with kohlrabi).  But a lot of times you don’t want to eat the same vegetable prepared the exact same way for weeks on end.

So you try to get creative, like this:

Vegetable Polenta Bake for One (or Two)

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1-2 cups greens (I used kale and chard)
1 cup pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 oz mozzarella (I used 1 string cheese)
1-2 tbsp grated paremesan/pecorino romano/asiago cheese
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and cook for a few minutes (until translucent), add garlic, zucchini and yellow squash and cook for a few minutes (it shouldn’t be cooked all the way).  Next add greens and stir around until they start to wilt.  Add pasta sauce and stir until greens have cooked down.  Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.

In a small pot or sauce pan, combine cornmeal, water, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once cornmeal starts to thicken (aka polenta), keep stirring until the polenta starts to come off the sides.

Take a small baking dish,  spread half of the sauce/vegetable mixture in the baking dish, then on top of that spread half of the polenta.  Next top with half the string cheese/mozzarella and half of the parmesan.  Repeat.

Bake in the toaster oven for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool.  Either eat it straight from the dish for another single lady (or gent) meal or serve on a plate with a simple green salad.

Ingredients from CSA in this dish: zucchini, yellow squash, kale and chard, parsley. + side salad with lettuce and cucumbers from CSA as well.

4.  Less trips to the grocery store!   Since I pick up at the Farmer’s Market once or twice, I make less frequent trips to the grocery store.  As a result, I spend less on things I don’t really need.  Because let’s face it, who actually sticks to their shopping list when they go to the store?

5.  It’s fun!  If you’re like me, vegetables are probably one of the most exciting things ever!  You get fun new ones every week!

Do you have a CSA share?  Consider getting one?
Any Pros or Cons I missed?

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