First of all, I’m going to throw a little basic knowledge your way just in case you have no idea what a CSA is. A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A community of shareholders agree to pay for a share of a local farm’s produce. The money paid upfront allows the farm to better plan their crops and allows them to invest in their farm before the growing season begins. We – the community of consumers agree to share the risks and benefits with that farm.
My husband and I have been trying to eat locally for the last ten years. It was quite challenging at first, but Knoxville has tons of options to do that now. We’ve got wonderful stores like justripe. We have a farmer’s market almost every day (my personal favorite is the Market Square Farmers Market). Restaurants are serving meals using lots of local produce. We even have food trucks serving food made with local ingredients. And lots of farms are now offering CSAs. Last year I participated in Colvin Family Farm’s CSA. We’re a family of two. We are not vegetarians. I grow a fairly large garden. So of course we made the brilliant decision to get a full share.
And you know what? It was brilliant. We got a great deal. We had an amazing selection of produce to use that was so tasty. We were able to keep our money in our local community. We were able to support something my husband and I fervently believe in. We were able to make a political decision – every bit of money we spend on local foods and small producers keeps money out of the hands of companies that use chemicals indiscriminately, spend millions of dollars to get fat farm subsidies in their hands, and who spend untold amounts of money to keep people from learning what foods contain genetically modified ingredients or hormones that they might not want to ingest.
I was shocked by how much produce we received each week. I wasn’t shocked by how good it is. I’ve always known that produce straight from the farm and/or garden is always a lot tastier and usually higher in nutrients. And I will argue to the day I die that organically grown produce just tastes better than conventionally grown produce.
I was amazed at how adept I became with using all the produce up. I would say that altogether, we used about 90% of the produce we received. When we didn’t use produce, it was usually because our week was unduly hectic or the box contained an item we both dislike, and we weren’t able to find someone to give it to. In a nation that wastes approximately 40% of its food, I’m pretty impressed with what we were able to do.
This year I’m a virtual farmhand for Colvin Family Farms! I’m going to be sharing my tips on how to store, plan and fully utilize the produce that we’ll get in our box each week. I’ll be sharing resources that have helped me. I’ll also be sharing recipes that will give you ideas on how to use the vegetables you get in each box. Cooking CSA style is not difficult but it does take a little getting used to. There are two other bloggers this year that will be joining me, and I’m excited to see the creative ideas and recipes they use as well. Betsy is blogging at Full Tummies and Lia is blogging at Thinklia.
What am I bringing to the Virtual Farmhand table? I’ve been a food blogger for years. I know lots of food bloggers, and I know the ones who consistently post delicious recipes. I’ve been eating locally for years and know how to shop and plan a menu around the food you get. I’m an adventurous cook, but I also run my own business and do freelance writing. I don’t have endless hours to spend toiling away in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and have had some amazing successes and some amazing failures. I will be very honest with you about how I do each week. I’m on a strict budget. I’m also adding the extra challenge of dealing with breast cancer this year to the mix.
There are various ways to follow my blog.You can subscribe to it by email or RSS feed. You can like the Facebook page for my blog – I post links there whenever a new post goes live. You can follow me on twitter, either using my general feed or be searching for the hashtag #eatyourcsa.
I post about a lot of different things here at Mouth From the South – I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I often blog about that. I’m a cocktail aficionado. I post about my cats. I post pictures. I sometimes swear a lot. If you’re not interested in reading any of the above, you can just read my CSA posts and recipe posts using these links.
I’m eagerly looking forward to the day we get our first box of produce. And if you haven’t signed up but would like to, here’s a link to join: Colvin Family Farm’s CSA
Note: My husband and I paid for a CSA share last year with Colvin Family Farms. However, since I am blogging about their CSA this year, I am receiving a free share for helping out as a virtual farmhand. For the record, if this opportunity hadn’t come up, my husband and I were planning to purchase another share this year.