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        CSA season is coming to a close next month and I’m going to miss my basket of fresh veggies each week! For those of you who may not know, I joined a CSA for the first time this past summer! It was an amazing and unique shopping experience and I’ve really learned a lot. No, a CSA is not a weird cult – it stands for community supported agriculture. The idea is that you pay upfront and “invest” in the harvest for the coming season. This allows the farmers to pay for seeds and equipment, and in return, you receive dividends of fresh fruits and vegetables for the season. You can learn more about CSA’s here. Here are 5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer…

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, Farmer's Market, Vegetables

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer…

         5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, squash blossoms, CSA Share

        The world is full of all kinds of different veggies… and I don’t even know half of them…

        I initially invested in my local CSA because I wanted a challenge. I wanted to be surprised with a unique haul of vegetables each week – some of which I would never pick out for myself. I was expecting a “Chopped- lite” challenge- different veggies I had to use each week, but nothing terribly weird or unheard of. While all of the veggies I got in my shares were delicious, I was definitely introduced to produce I had never cooked with such as garlic scapes, gourds, shishito peppers, fava (or broad) beans, giaponese peppers, oak lettuce, dandelion root, and many more I didn’t even know existed!

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, red peppers

        Getting out of your comfort zone can be delicious.

        Because I was challenged with such a variety of veggies, I had to get creative with my recipes. Vegan Rainbow Chard Masala Sloppy Joes, fava bean crudites, garlic scape pesto pizza… all delicious dinners I never would have cooked without the CSA challenge. The CSA also provided me with a LOT of vegetables in my share each week. In order to limit waste, i had to get out of my fresh vegetable comfort zone and practice my preserving skills. Let’s just say I have enough pickles and frozen zucchini and green beans to last me until next Thanksgiving…

        Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

        There is such a thing as too much kale.

        I can’t claim to be a kale fanatic but the CSA certainly tested our limits with greens consumption. The first few weeks provided bunches and bunches of different types of lettuces and kale. Red Russian, Dinosaur, Curly, Lacinato, Purple Flowering… we had ALL of it. Let’s just say we got sick of eating greens really quickly. One can only consume so much kale.

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, blueberries, you pick

        Farm to table quality is totally worth it.

        My CSA shares were harvested mere minutes before I picked them up each week meaning they were at the PEAK of freshness. Because they went straight into the refrigerator and didn’t waste any time in cross-country transport, my vegetables stayed fresh longer. This reduced spoilage and waste and improved texture and flavor of the veggies when they were finally used. The quality of the veggies was impeccable as well. I rarely got bruised or blemished vegetables. The farm to table quality of the vegetables made each dish so much  more flavorful and delicious.

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, green beans

        It will make you want to start a garden…

        Each week my CSA share was accompanied by recipes, trivia, and gardening tip. I learned that peppers grow really well in the front range, tomatoes easily catch disease, tomatoes and melons need hot days to ripen… Not only did I get amazing vegetables, I also learned a lot about my food and where it comes from. Visiting the farm and seeing the beautiful rows of vegetables inspired me to start a little garden of my own next year. More updates to come next spring!

         

        5 things I learned from joining a CSA this summer, eggplant, farmer's market

        Overall, my first CSA season was a great experience. I learned so much about different fruits and vegetables, cooking, gardening, and my own personal taste! If you have the opportunity to try out a CSA, I would highly recommend it. It’s been a wonderful learning experience and a great way to get involved in my community. Do you participate in a CSA? What have you learned? Let me know in the comments below!

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