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April 2008 Issue
Exploring CSAs
by Ronda L. Halpin
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As the season for fresh fruit and vegetables begins, many people might be wondering what kinds of options they have for enjoying them at their peak. So over the next few months, we will be focusing on different ways to do just that. We begin with a focus on Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. CSA refers to the practice of farms offering produce subscriptions, where buyers receive a weekly or monthly basket of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, coffee, or any sort of different farm products. It's a fast-growing option that allows people with lifestyles too busy to grow their own food to help farmers offset the costs of planting, tending and harvesting food. Many people especially appreciate the win-win scenario and can appreciate the option many farms give of allowing members (also referred to as shareholders or subscribers) a chance to get as involved or hands-off as they would like in the process. In 1990, there were about 50 CSA programs available in the US, whereas that number grew to over 1,000 in 2007.

This year, my family has opted to buy a share (in this case, a weekly basket of mixed seasonal produce) from a local CSA farm. When we looked into the options, we were amazed! Instead of one or two options, we literally had dozens to choose from! Then, on top of a farm to choose, some offered a food storage share in the fall, fresh eggs, and all manner of wonderful food options for those so inclined. Despite the sudden desire to sign up for everything available, I opted for the standard weekly share. So, for the next few months, I will be getting a basket of wonderfully fresh produce and ideas for making the most of it.

So if you are interested in finding out more about CSA, what do you do? Well, there are a lot of options. The one I chose was actually really simple. I simply searched for "community supported agriculture" and the name of my city. Presto, bingo! I got this wonderful website that listed dozens of CSA programs in my area. Then, I spent a bit of time looking at the options each farm offered, the location of the farm and the location of the share pickups. (Often, there are multiple places to pick up your weekly share. Always nice to choose something convenient.)

If you have a local farmers' market, take a moment to talk to the people at the stands. A lot of the people that are likely to bring fresh produce to a stand at a farmers' market are also likely to be selling shares to people as well. That gives you an opportunity to talk with people before signing up as well, to learn about what options are available and how the farm is run.

If you are interested in learning more about CSAs, check out the following links:

Finally, before I leave you until next month, let me share with you a great spring salad featuring fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy!

 

Spring Salad with Crab Meat Sauce

  • 1/2 cup crumbled crab meat
  • 8 ounces package fat-free cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • A handful chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup asparagus
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup green peppers
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • Several lettuce leaves
Combine the crab meat, cream cheese, lemon juice, parsley, curry powder and seasonings and refrigerate at least for 1/2 hour.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and the peppers into thin strips. On a bed of lettuce, arrange the tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, and bean sprouts. Garnish with the parsley. Serve the crabmeat sauce on the side.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes
 



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