Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vegetable Subscription

I recently signed up for a four-week trial subscription for a weekly batch of vegetables. This is CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, providing locally grown, in-season produce. I support the concept (and the stuff is fresher), but I also felt we were not eating enough vegetables, and having them on hand --- greens I'd already paid for and didn't have to choose at the supermarket --- would allay my diurnal anxiety about what to cook for supper. l'd subscribed to a similar program several years ago, but having to drive several miles to pick up a basket of mostly unfamiliar plant material, was not a success.

This time, I pick up my bag of veggies less than a mile from our house, and so far, though the quantities would really be more suitable for a family of four, I've been able to use most of it. We can always eat lettuce, spinach, celery, carrots, and radishes. Cabbage and beets are on the list for this coming week, and zuccini, broccoli and several kinds of potatoes will be coming later in the summer. Although it hasn't been mentioned, I'm also hoping for really good tomatoes. But maybe they only grow in Ohio and New Jersey.

Then there are the more exotic items. Cardoons are thistle stems, related to and tasting something like artichokes. I added them, chopped, to scalloped potatoes. Arugula, mixed with slivered leeks, sauteed with bacon, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and grated cheese, was good over pasta. The "mystery bag" contained a few shitake mushrooms which were yummy in scrambled eggs. I think I've eaten agretti in Asian restaurants, but I didn't know what it was. It looks like pine needles and tastes a little like spinach. Purple carrots, while interesting looking, were not as tasty or tender as ordinary orange carrots. Parsnips were a pleasant surprise --- actually sweet. I'm afraid two big bunches of fennel will go unused; my husband doesn't like the licorice flavor.

So, on the whole, the experiment has been a reasonable success. I'll probably continue the subscription. And while I can't say we're feeling noticeably healthier, I'm feeling better psychologically for eating my vegetables and eating them locally.


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