We've had a ton of produce in our fridge lately (just how I like it), most of which is coming straight from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Signing up for a CSA has allowed us to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. We pay in advance, and every Saturday we pick out a certain number of items (already paid for) from our CSA's stand at our local Farmers Market.
There are lots of benefits to going the CSA way.
It's healthy: for us and for the planet. As consumers, we get the freshest food, full of flavor and nutrients (food medicine) and untarnished by long transport times, processing, or preservatives. And because the food is local, it doesn't require the kind of packaging, storing, processing, preserving, and transporting so many others do.
A chance to get up close and personal. It's also an opportunity to actually meet and get to know the people growing our food - at the market and on the farm, and to get the dirt on how it all goes down.
It's fun! Our CSA puts on a number of awesome family-friendly events throughout the summer. Farm tours, food, music, and more - fun for all ages.
Here are a couple of shots from the One Straw Farm tractor tour/concert in the field event last year:
Good for farmers. CSAs are great for farmers, too. They get to spend time marketing their food earlier (before the days of 16+ hours in the field begin), they get paid earlier (which helps with the farm's cash flow and keeping everything up and running), and they get to meet the people who are reaping the rewards of their hard work.
If you want to join a CSA, be sure to pick the one that's right for you. Do some investigating. Ask questions about:
How much of the food is actually grown on the farm? If it's anything less than 100%, ask where the rest comes from.
Farming practices and seeds? Organic, heirloom, genetically modified, etc.
Share options? Often you can buy a half-share, for example, if that better suits your needs. You can go halvesies, too, with another couple or family. Also ask about pick-up, drop-off, and market locations.
Favorite farms? Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers: you probably already know someone who's doing a CSA this year. Ask them about their experience and their advice.
This is our second year with a CSA, and we've actually increased our share. But there are many who opt not to renew. It seems that the number one reason people don't rejoin a CSA is that they feel guilty about food waste.
To really get the most out of your CSA membership, food prep, meal planning, and self-control are crucial. Things have to be kept fresh, ready to use, and easily accessible. This was certainly a struggle for us last year - but we're doing MUCH better this time around. You also have to learn to "resist the lazy." So many days I wanted to walk down the street and order up a lunch at a local favorite spot. Now, I find a way to eat what's in the fridge.
To really get the most out of your CSA membership, food prep, meal planning, and self-control are crucial...You have to learn to "resist the lazy".
Ok, so the only thing reeeally summery about this Quinoa Summer Salad is that it's deliciously light and refreshing, with a touch of sweetness - just what I want on a hot summer day. It's also super easy and fast to put together. My incorporation of spinach and basil, by the way, is an example of my "resisting the lazy" approach to food. It was the perfect (healthy) addition to this salad. Here's how to make it happen:
- Add 1 cup of (rinsed and drained) quinoa to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add: 1/4 cup of dried cranberries (unsweetened), 1/4 cup of raw (unsalted) sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup raw (unsalted) almond slivers, 5-7 dried apricots (unsweetened), roughly chopped, 8-10 leaves of fresh spinach (thinly sliced), and 10-12 leaves of fresh basil (thinly sliced).
- In a small bowl, whisk together: 1 tablespoon raw honey, 1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon dijon mustard.
- Add cooled quinoa and dressing to large bowl. Fluff together to combine.
- Serve and enjoy!
Hope you love it! I'd love to hear what you think. And if you haven't already signed up for my monthly newsletter, you can take care of that right here. Already subscribed? Remember, your chance to save 15% on one-on-one coaching expires at the end of this month. Happy summer, loves!!