Thursday, June 11, 2015

Experimenting with Community Supported Agriculture

A few weeks ago, I saw an Instagram post made by a friend who was displaying her huge weekly share from her recently joined food co-op.  And it got me thinking.

I've looked into these co-ops before but never tried one out.  I decided it was time.

For several days, I researched all the local co-ops and CSAs (community supported agriculture), and I found a CSA that was not too complicated to join, had a super easy web site for placing orders, had some open spots available, and was nearby (actually turned out to be closer than I thought....)

In case you haven't notice, I'm one for experiments. 

So far, I'm enjoying this one - it's fun to open up the box and see what's inside each week, but in the end, I have to decipher if I'm saving money or not, which is the ultimate goal.

I joined for four weeks' worth of deliveries.  Along with the weekly fruits and vegetables, I ordered a month's supply of meat.  Technically, it won't last a month, but it will go a long way.  This included 20 pounds of an assortment of meats --- whole chicken, beef roast, pork chops, bacon, Italian sausage, beef filets, New York strips, wild caught Georgia shrimp, ground beef....

I also receive a weekly delivery of raw cow milk.

Each week in my fruits/veggies box, I have received at least one or two items that I would typically not buy, so that brings a little variety to the table.  :>)

The first week, I received a vegetable that I'd never heard of ----> Kohlrabi. 
So I did a little Google search to find out what to do with it.  I used the recipe here to create the shredded kohlrabi patties.  It didn't taste like anything I had tried before.  It wasn't bad, but I don't see it becoming my favorite vegetable anytime soon.

In this weeks box, I received peaches and blackberries, broccoli, zucchini squash, cucumber, kale, parsley, lettuce, and beets.  The only way I've ever cooked beets was last Christmas when I used them to color my red velvet cake.  Not sure I want to go to that much trouble here in June, so I'm going to have to Google once again to figure out what to do with them.

Last week's surprise or unusual inclusions were shiitake mushrooms and a rutabaga.  Mushrooms are pretty versatile but don't think I've ever cooked a rutabaga.  As part of last night's supper, I cubed up the rutabaga along with a turnip from another week's box (they looked alike so I figured that was okay), covered and boiled them in salty water, and then mashed them up together with added butter and some bacon left over from breakfast.  Not too bad.

I do like the variety of vegetables I'm receiving, and I've yet to use my entire box of produce in a week before the next one arrives. 

If you're wondering about costs, it was right around $400 for the month for the meat, fruits, veggies, and milk.  Our food budget is around $150/160 a week, so that leaves around $50 to pick up extra needs during the week. 

Another plus to this adventure is it turns out the manager of this CSA lives about a mile from me, so she just drops off my weekly order on my front porch on her way home.  Now that's hard to beat.

Next week will be week number four, and I'll have to make a decision on whether to continue or not.  With my dad's garden starting to come in, local produce stands having such good prices and healthy-looking items, and not to mention the fact that I recently tried out Aldi, I may have to take the experiment in a different direction.

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