In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why I love getting my CSA box

I wish I had not dragged my feet so long before signing up for a CSA box.
First of all, I wanted it to be Alaskan but year-round, and I thought that was impossible given our long winters. But then I found GlacierValleyFarm CSA, and they supplement local Alaskan produce with shipments from the West Coast during winter, and I was sold!

Anyway, here were my original doubts/excuses, --so I add TRUE and FALSE with a comment on how I see it now...

1. It costs a lot of money.
TRUE but FALSE: I pay $30 for a box now (and it's going up to $35), but I'm sure I would have spend at least that much if I'd gone and bought the same (organic!) produce conventionally. But the hitch is, I probably would have talked myself out of a fair bit of that produce when standing in the grocery store with "do I really need to spend this much on organic"... in other words, I would not have ended up with the quantity and variety I get from the CSA box. IT MAKES US EAT HEALTHIER THAN WE WOULD OTHERWISE.

2. We'll get more produce than we can eat.
FALSE. At least for us that's not been a problem. At first it took a change of thinking to find ways to incorporate it all (hey, it's why I started this blog!), but we do eat it all!
If push comes to shove, I'll make soup, or freeze it.

3. We'll get produce we don't like.
Again, not been a problem for us. And some of the things I thought the troops would rebel against, turn out not to be a problem. We got to try new foods, new recipes, and it's been a wonderful process of discovery for our family -- and I'm grateful for the opportunity to "expand" our eating horizons -- it's a great way to get out of a rut of "same old"... Like I said before, IT MAKES US EAT HEALTHIER THAN WE WOULD OTHERWISE.

3b. What if we miss produce we used to buy, and it doesn't come in the box?
SIMPLE - just go and buy it! I do still buy some produce at the grocery store or Costco warehouse. For example, we like avocados, grapes, clementines, sweet peppers... So I buy them!

4. The kids won't eat it.
Again, try it! Kids (and husbands, too) might surprise you! Cook it and ask them to try "just a bite", but do this without a power struggle. Studies have shown that children will start eating unfamiliar food somewhere after the 3rd-5th time it's served -- it's no longer "strange" then. And involve the kids in lots of aspects before serving the meal-- picking up the box or going to the Farmer's Market; let them smell & taste; pick recipes & help cook... I bet they'll surprise you, and become more flexible than some adults you know!
And if the kids don't eat it, don't let that stop you. I've spend years not cooking foods I love (eggplant, mushrooms, just to name a few) because nobody else likes them -- well, no more! I'll cook them now & then (there'd be other choices too), and I'll enjoy the leftovers for lunch, etc.

4. I'd rather go to Farmer's Market, and grow my own.
More power to you!
Yes, I grow a few of my own veggies in summer (hopefully more this summer), and I love going to Farmer's Markets (here that's June-Sep only).
CSA boxes can complement during the leaner times, and/or you can just order less when you expect the other sources to start coming in... You just have to plan ahead.

5. It will take too much planning -- I don't like planning ahead.
TRUE, it takes planning. But that's not a bad thing necessarily, is it?
Spontaneous (bordering on haphazard) meal-planning is o.k. occasionally, but really, that's how we often end up eating less than healthy meals, and wasting money (and sometimes, food!)
TRUE, you will end up spending more time planning and cooking from scratch, but that's the point, at least for me.

I may sound like a broken record, but for our family, the CSA box MAKES US EAT HEALTHIER THAN WE WOULD OTHERWISE.

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