Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homegrown Wisconsin CSA Weeks 1 and 2

I signed up for the Homegrown Wisconsin CSA program this year. For anyone who doesn't know what that is, Wikipedia and Localharvest do a nice job of explaining it. Basically, you pay money to a nearby farm, or set of farms in this case, and receive a bunch of fresh, healthy, local produce every week. The cost is about on par with buying veggies at the grocery store, but the quality is much higher, it's a lot fresher, and the farmers get a bigger cut. I'm fortunate that one of the pick up sites for this particular program is just down my street, so there is simply no excuse for me not to do this.

One of the most interesting, and occasionally frustrating, things about doing a CSA is the surprise factor. To put it succinctly: you never know what you're gonna get. Nature isn't a mechanical contraption spitting plants out of the ground according to finely tuned inputs and schedules. On the contrary, the quantity, quality, and distribution of the farm's output follows a probabilistic model. Growing is a stochastic process where a million incalculable factors (most notably weather) influence the final result. You generally know which produce will be ready for harvest within a certain window, but the exact yields for a particular week aren't known until hours before pickup.

The biggest surprise for me came a couple years ago, when I received an entire basket (think laundry basket) full of tomatoes sometime in July. I'm not much of a fan of tomatoes to begin with, but this would be a bit much for anyone to eat before they spoiled, which unfortunately did happen to many. So my goal this time is to make sure everything gets eaten, or given away, never wasted. To that end I'll be documenting each week's pickup and holding myself accountable for its full consumption and enjoyment. Nobody will legitimately be able to accuse me of not eating my veggies between now and October!

Week 1: June 17, 2009

Rhubarb, green garlic, white button mushrooms, asparagus, common mint, strawberries, spinach, and a ton of lettuce

The asparagus was excellent (a lot better than the usual from TJ's) and the strawberries were very tasty. The biggest problem was the rhubarb; I'm not much of a baker so I didn't know what to do with it except eat it like celery. Unfortunately I had to throw some out since it went bad in the fridge (I didn't know it needs to be stored in a wet cloth, then cut up and frozen if not used).

Week 2: June 24, 2009

White button mushrooms, spinach, green garlic, peas, strawberries, rhubarb, spinach, common mint, zucchini, more lettuce, and two dozen eggs from chickens eating their natural omnivorous diet (including insects and worms)

Here I present my "A little bit of everything in the box plus a few stray frozen shrimp" stir fry

So far so good; I have no issues downing a metric ton of lettuce per week. But seriously, if you have any ideas for rhubarb that aren't rhubarb pie, then please get in touch with me.