This morning, after some much needed sleep, I cheerfully hopped out to my car. Yes, I literally hopped. Like a rabbit. I jumped in and my legs almost groaned at me. After racking up over 1400 miles on the road this past week, my lower extremities were not excited about the prospect of sitting even one more minute in that car.
But I couldn’t help it, I was smiling wide. I made it through the Park and out of Milford…chugging along on Highway 71. After about twenty minutes, I came up to the little Iowa town of Fostoria. Turning west into town, I began to wonder if anyone else driving around me was possibly as excited about their destination.
Five more miles to go. I turned down a gravel road and slowly creeped past the largest little farm I’ve ever seen. I was at Good Eetens in Everly, Iowa. Mike was out working in the garden as I pulled my little prius up to the house. Darla met me at the door and I introduced myself. After some exchanges she grabbed me a giant box and filled it with goods from their garden. This was my first week with the CSA.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Here’s how it works. People within a community sign up to help local farmers grow their produce (or raise their animals or feed their chickens, etc). They pay up front for a share in the farm. Then, once harvest begins, each week the farmer shares boxes of their produce/eggs/chickens with their supporters. This allows farmers to earn money before the harvest (so they can plant accordingly) and helps the community boost the local economy.
And it’s GENIUS!
As a small business owner myself, I strongly believe in supporting your local businesses. And as a person who is increasingly aware of the corrupt food industry, the idea of getting fresh produce every week grown less than 30 miles away from my apartment is refreshing.
After saying hello to the cat and a big chocolate lab (seriously, I was so excited I even let myself pet the head of the cat that works hard to chase varmints out of the garden-despite my cat allergies), I re-hopped back into my car to head home and check out my box of heaven.
What did I score?
Peas, Sweet Onion, Spinach, Arugula, Carrots, Radishes, Fennel, New Potatoes, Cucumbers, Strawberries, Kale, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Cilantro, Parsley, and Tarragon!
I spent my afternoon cleaning the ground growers and shucking the peas…of which I basically ate just as many peas as I shucked.
You see, I think that perhaps sometimes my troubles with gluten were really a blessing in disguise. I have learned so much about nutrition, so much about GMOs, so much about processed food, so much about the importance of eating organic. I cringe now when I think about a conversation I had with a friend about six years ago. We were laughing at all the “crazy hippies” who were so concerned with organic foods. I mean, there have so many advances in food production why were people obsessed with growing it the way it was done sixty years ago?
Ironic, isn’t it?
I could give you a list ten pages long as to why I prefer organic produce and grassed meats. But I don’t know if you’d believe me. The best reason I can give you is that they taste better. And isn’t that what everyone wants from their food? Sweeter strawberries, richer eggs, more tender beef?
Darla asked me how I became interested in joining a CSA. They have a relative small number of shares available on her farm because she likes for those that join to have a personal connection to the people who grow the food. “I’ve always wanted to have a garden.” I replied. “My husband and I live in a small apartment right now. We are looking for an acreage, and then we plan on growing most of our produce and even keeping chickens for eggs.”
Darla smiled. “That is so great! My daughter and her husband are saving for an acreage too. I hear frequently about your generation wanting to have a simple life. It really warms my heart.”
Oh, but one last thing. That CSA box? There are two items of produce in it I have NEVER eaten or made. Fennel and Radishes. So, help me out if you can. How should I prepare these two tasty veggies this week? I’m willing to try anything, but know with a little advice one of these two might become my new favorite food. Leave me a comment and I will post about the experience!