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Community Supported Agriculture: Our First Delivery

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This year, my lovely wife and I joined a local CSA – the fancy acronym for community supported agriculture. Joining a CSA is one of the ways we’ve considered going green while saving green and this was the first year we’ve done it. We went with One Straw Farm, a CSA located in Maryland with a drop point just a few miles from our house. Our goal in doing this is to eat better, both in the quality/diversity of our food and in lowering the impact we have on our environment, and learn how to cook more. It’s a bonus that we can support a local business.

Today, I picked up our first delivery which consisted of:

  • One pint of strawberries
  • One bunch of rainbow chard
  • One bunch of beets
  • One bunch of Swiss chard
  • One bunch of garlic sprouts
  • One bunch of broccoli
  • One bunch of kale
  • One head of lettuce

Phytonutrients & Antioxidants

Part of the fun of picking up stuff I’ve never cooked before (either chards, never even heard of garlic sprouts) is in doing the research. It turns out that a lot of these vegetables are rich in phytonutrients and polyphenol antioxidants. The leaves of chard, broccoli, kale, and strawberries are all rich in the polyphenol antioxidants – especially kaempferol. When they talk about eating a lot of different colors, they’re usually talking about these antioxidants (beets and chard have a lot of betalains, which is found in reddish-purple and yellow betacyanin pigments).

How to Cook It All

Enough with the biochemistry, how do you prepare this? I’m going to cheat and skip a few of these. With broccoli and kale, I already have a favorite way to prepare those (fry up some garlic in olive oil, toss in along with some chicken stock to steam until soft; salt to taste). As for beets, my wife just boils them and loves it that way. Strawberries and lettuce are popular enough that you probably know what to do with them… but the chards?

It turns out that the basic idea behind the chards is to boil them in water to cook out some of the oxalic acid, which gives it the sharp taste (also found in spinach, rhubarb, and beets greens). Oxalic acid is broken down in cooking (it can also interfere with your calcium absorption) so you should cook it for a few minutes before eating it. The recipe I’m hoping to try will be this one, since it is reminiscent of how I like my other greens. We’ll see how it goes!

As for the garlic sprouts (sometimes called garlic stems), they have a similar flavor to garlic and are used when you want to add a garlicy flavor to your dish without actually using garlic (which sounds odd, right?). I’m going to try something simple, chopping them and frying it up in a little oil. I figure it’ll truly let us enjoy it’s natural flavor without muddying it up.

Incidentally, we once talked about eating vegetarian once a week… we may very well have forced ourselves to do so given all the produce we’re getting! :)

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12 Responses to “Community Supported Agriculture: Our First Delivery”

  1. Stefanie says:

    One of my favorite ways to eat kale, chard, and mustard greens (all together or separately) is to wash and chop them, cook them until they are completely wilted and the water from them is gone, add some olive oil and chopped garlic, cook a bit, then add some balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until you’re happy with the flavor/ texture. You can also sub out lemon juice for the vinegar. This is delicious on grains or pasta with a veggie protein like white beans or tofu (we are a primarily vegetarian house). I just cooked greens like this a week ago in a demo at my local farmers market and they were a hit with the crowd there.

    • Shirley says:

      Ooh, thank you Stefanie! An uncle in CT used to fix “greens” that were so very good and I never knew just how he did it. This sounds exactly like it and I will give it a try.

  2. Martha says:

    Any pictures of this loot?

  3. Jim says:

    No pictures, I’m too lazy. :)

  4. Celia says:

    Do you like curries? You can make a wicked palak panir with chard. Actually, you can use chard in any recipe calling for spinach. The texture is similar, and the flavor fairly mild.

    Speaking of greens curries… You can use just about any dark leafy in curries calling for spinach.

    Love growing season! We just got our first CSA box last week.

  5. No Debt MBA says:

    If you really love super garlic-y food you can make pesto out of the garlic stems raw. We did that once with our CSA haul and it packed a walloping punch even with white beans, nuts, and olive oil in the mix. Cooking the stems generally makes them less potent which might not be a bad thing.

  6. Liz Kay says:

    I just made a garlic scape pesto and can attest to its super garlic flavor — maybe because it’s basically raw?

    Jim, that sounds like a lot of chard. Did your beets come with the greens? Because they are edible too … but very much like chard.

    My favorite kale recipe is a raw salad — Martha Stewart’s lemony kale salad. Easy, delicious, keeps for days. I have tweaked it with great results: switched up the nuts, added nutritional yeast instead of cheese, subbed in other greens like collards, so why not chard? Usually kale salad is best with more tender varieties like lacinto or dinosaur, but the lemon dressing will make any kale easier to eat after the next day.

    Also: try this beet soup next time they arrive in your shipment. I bet you could serve it cold.

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for the ideas Liz!

      I tried a piece of raw scape last night – garlicly (like 50-75% garlic’s bitiness) with a little sweetness to it. My friend suggested I try making a garlic scape pesto, so that’s two votes and I think I might do it.

      Our beets did come with the greens so I’ll give them a try too… I’ve never actually eaten chard before but we will tonight. :)

  7. That’s awesome. I’m working on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet, so finding a CSA near me would be great.

  8. Julie says:

    Hey Jim,
    I signed up for a half share of CSA vegetables for this summer also — I am excited to start next Wednesday. A great website for all sorts of recipes is foodgawker.com. It is a compilation of pictures that are linked to different food blog posts. Whenever I see something on sale at the supermarket and want to try something new, I just do a search on foodgawker and I usually find at least a couple of enticing recipes. Good luck! =)

    P.S. Smart ideas run in families…

  9. Scott says:

    I put out tomato plants and yellow & acorn squash. My first tomatoes are days from being ripe. We’re still getting a handful of grape tomatoes off our plant from last year…I can’t believe it is still producing a year later.

    We also have a couple basil bunches, jalapenos & cinnamon basil…I’m getting hungry!

  10. skylog says:

    this sounds like a great concept. i just wish i had this option in my area. i do hit up all the local farmers markets i can, but i would love to be able to join a service like this.


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