produce

7 Tips For Finding the Right CSA

by Anne Maxfield on April 16, 2018

Accidental Locavore CSA LettuceThis is the time of year when we all start yearning for anything fresh.

A CSA or Community Sponsored Agriculture share is a great way to support local farmers and put plenty of great produce on your table.

While a few years ago, this was a pretty new concept, now there are CSAs for almost everything from fruits and vegetables to coffees and breads.

How do you pick the best CSA for you?

Accidental Locavore CSAThese were my criteria for picking one and while yours will probably be different, here are 7 tips:

  1. A convenient pick-up place, day and time. You need to think about where and when you want to have an abundance of produce. Do you cook and entertain during the weekends? Or will you use it mostly during the week? When will you have time to wash/prep stuff? Do you have fridge space?
  2. A reasonable share for the number of people in your household. If you hate wasting food and sometimes feel like the kitchen version of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice–cooking as fast as you can, only to have a whole new box show up, you might want to split a share with a neighbor or friend. Some CSAs offer half shares or will match you up with other members who are looking to share the bounty.
  3. For some, organic is important; I’m more into sustainable practices, but if organic matters, only look for those farmers.
  4. A farmer/farm referral. Like most business relationships, it’s all about doing business with people you know and like. We originally joined Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s CSA because a woman farmer I knew was working there and I liked her and her agricultural point of view.
  5. Choice. One of the things I love most about PFP is the ability to choose from about a dozen or more weekly offerings. I can get carrots when I want them and skip the beets. They also have pick-your-own options which add herbs, berries and flowers to your share if you’re willing to go out in the fields. Over the years they’ve added the options to add a fruit share, coffee, meat and even a winter share to get you through the dark months.
  6. What foodstuffs you’re looking for (and can use up). When we joined, we were looking mostly for produce. However, there are many CSAs that offer meat, poultry, bread, eggs and other foods. A few minutes on the Internet should find you just what you need.
  7. Giving back to the community. This is more of an extra credit thing, but Poughkeepsie Farm Project is in the middle of an urban area and gives back through education and by providing produce to local families.

Accidental Locavore CSA shareWhatever you decide, a CSA is a great way of exploring new foods, while supporting farmers.

But act soon, many of the most popular may be sold out for the season!

 

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Bounty from the Box, the CSA Farm Cookbook

by Anne Maxfield on June 12, 2017

Accidental Locavore Bounty From the Box CookbookAnother cookbook. Even with careful (and constant) pruning, they threaten to overtake my office.

Because of that and the availability of almost everything online, I’m getting very picky about whether a cookbook get a seat at the table, shelves, floor, or donation pile.

When Mi Ae Lipe, the author of Bounty from the Box, the CSA Farm Cookbook, contacted me about the book, honestly, I was pretty lukewarm about it. The fact that it was months before I was going to see anything from my CSA may have played a part in it too.

Then the book arrived. It’s huge.

Think Manhattan phone book huge.

OMG what am I going to do with this thing?

But it’s amazing!

Accidental Locavore Zucchini With Flowers from CookbookForget about figuring out what to do with the fifth week of zucchini from your CSA, this book is indispensable for anyone who buys produce.

Besides what you’d expect–cooking ideas and recipes, all the fruit, vegetables and herbs she writes about have guides to selection, storage, seasonality, nutrition and even whether they can be frozen.

There are side-bars with book and cookbook recommendations, quotes and even the pros and cons of joining a CSA.

One of my criteria for judging a cookbook, and the reason I prefer a real book to my e-reader, is the index. I don’t think I’ve ever raved about an index, but Mi Ae has one that’s just recipes by ingredients. So, if you have a mess of arugula and want to do something with it, there are a bunch of recipes that use arugula giving you lots to choose from.

Accidental Locavore First CSA Pickup for CookbookThe only downside to this index? You’ll see at least another four things you’d like to try.

The upside is that if you have a choice at your CSA (like we do) or farmers’ market, you’ll get brave and pick up a bunch of something you’re not familiar with because you’ve got help at home.

Who knows, your new favorite vegetable may be lurking there!

 

 

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Food Waste: What Can You Do?

by Anne Maxfield on October 31, 2016

Accidental Locavore Food Waste

You know that food waste is a huge problem in this country.

A look in your refrigerator will reveal a little of everything and a lot of nothing.

You don’t want to throw out the leftovers.

Americans throw out 50% of our produce.

Some of it’s just not pretty.

Some of it’s spoiled—we just never get to it.

The Accidental Locavore’s friend Janet Irizarry is one of many people in the Hudson Valley who is working to change food waste, one onion at a time.

Accidental Locavore Food Waste OnionsYou’ve heard all the talk about writing things down and making them happen, but maybe the first step is just to be conscious of it.

That’s what Janet has done for me.

This week, I made Dorrie Greespan’s “Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good” from Around my French Table.

I did not (really) make it according to her recipe.

My pumpkins were stuffed with everything I found in the fridge.

Accidental Locavore Food Waste Leftovers for StuffingSome croutons, a couple of Italian sausage links, some unknown cheese chunk, leek tops, the last three slices of bacon, three broccoli florets, the remnants of thyme from my garden and the rest of the heavy cream.

They were great (and you’re dealing with a couple of non-pumpkin/winter squash fans)!

Last night, rather than just heating up some left over rigatoni, I chopped up a piece of leftover pork chop, threw it all in a gratin pan, topped with some mozzarella and the last of the Parmesan and baked it. Also great!

Next up? What to do with a half a duck from Sunday night.

Thai duck curry?

A fancy shepherd’s pie (substituting the duck confit for some of my leftover duck)?

Duck fried rice (still have some of those leek tops)?

Accidental Locavore Food Waste Thai Fried RiceCross-cultural quesadillas with some of the plum hoisin sauce (which was wonderful with the duck)?

Maybe the solution to food waste starts very small.

In your head.

With awareness.

Creativity.

And just plain messing around in the kitchen.

Three of the meals I made, came from bits of three others.

Bits that probably would have gone in the garbage.

But because that seed had been planted, I started messing around to see what I could create.

And it was all good.

What will you make?

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Markets, On and Off the Beaten Track

by Anne Maxfield on January 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Liberation MarketThere’s something everyone always searches out when they’re traveling. For my father, it’s hardware stores, for the Accidental Locavore, it’s markets. And when it comes to markets, the one in the old town of Nice is pretty much the standard. Beautiful flowers, perfect produce, it’s hard to find fault with it. However, I’ve known for a while about the “real” market in Nice–where the folks who live there shop. It’s in Liberation, one stop north on the tram from the train station. I hopped on the tram the other day and went up to check it out.

Accdental Locavore Purple ArtichokesWhere the Cours Salaya market is fairly compact, the one at Liberation ambles on for blocks. It’s almost exclusively produce and there’s a lot of repetition, but if you look carefully you’ll find treasures like these beautiful purple artichokes. Prices are lower too, but if you figure in the tram ride it’s probably a wash unless you’re stocking up (something that most French people never do).

Accidental Locavore Scallops

Down a side street, you’ll find fish mongers selling everything from the tiniest anchovies to whole fish to scallops still in the shell. It’s supposed to be the best place in Nice to get seafood and you can easily see why.

Accidental Locavore Lots of Lettuce

I took home a couple of the purple artichokes and some lettuce to go with a roast chicken from the local butcher. Like a lot of purple food, once cooked, the artichokes lost their color, but were still delicious, a little more citrus tasting than the ones we get at home.

Accidental Locavore Antibes Market

For sheer variety, there’s always the market in Antibes. Very dog-friendly, as you can see, there are a huge variety of goodies to choose from. Along with produce, you’ll find some great charcuterie, local products like olive oils and tubs of tapenades.

Accidental Locavore Olives Antibes

I’ve been on a mission to find green olives with garlic like they have at Le Passe-Plat. Although I still don’t think these were quite as good, I seem to have eaten half the container already (and am looking for an excuse to go back to Antibes for more).

Accidental Locavore Cheese Vendor Antibes

While the cheese guy was easy on the eyes and the cheese was good, I resisted and went on to find Frank a bottle of pastis from his favorite place and had a great lunch of steak tartare and frites.

Accidental Locavore Steak Tartare in Antibes

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