Thursday, July 21, 2011

CSAs and Patty Pan

Several years ago my sister told me about something called a CSA. For those who aren’t familiar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s basically a risk/gain sharing partnership between local farmers and community members. Typically at the beginning of the year, individuals or families will buy “shares” of a farm and each week will receive their share of whatever is in season and being harvested. So from year to year or week to week people with shares will receive more or less depending on how much is being harvested and how the year is going. This gives local farmers a guaranteed income and spreads the risk around.

One of the first things we searched for on the internet when we found out we were moving to Cleveland was “CSAs in Cleveland”. We found there were pages and pages of options with options to pick up your food all over the city, every day of the week. (Just as a side note – these do exist in Des Moines and probably wherever you are too if there is a farmer’s market nearby. We just hadn’t been able to participate all summer long in the past.) We were really excited to find a CSA called City Fresh that allows you to buy in week by week rather than the entire summer. There are a few things we like about going to a CSA rather than buying all our produce at the grocery store. First, the produce just looks amazing! It can’t be picked more than 24 hours in advance and is hand selected so everything looks really fresh and colorful. Also, most of the produce is grown organically. Finally, I love supporting local farmers!

Produce from a CSA varies each week and can be a mixed bag so you need to be flexible. Luckily, I pretty much love any and all food and Robbie never gives me trouble in this department. Honestly, there isn’t a thing I have cooked that he wouldn’t try – including brownies made with black beans (which are delicious by the way). If you are vegetable averse or a picky eater, obviously you would not enjoy CSAs at all. We, however, have a healthy appreciation for vegetables. We picked up our CSA items as instructed and headed home. As we unpacked them there were two items we were completely unfamiliar with. One was an herb and the other a gourd-like veggie that was the color of honeydew melon. We remembered the herb was lemon “something” but the gourd was a source of debate. I thought the handwritten sign said Polly Pon and Rob insisted it was Potty Pon. A quick phone call to my vegetarian sister ended our debate. It is a Patty Pan squash and she (of course!) had a great recipe from her CSA she promised to send over. The other item was lemon balm which is somewhat of a cross between lemon and mint – great for making sauce for fish or adding to tea. I have a feeling my sister might be getting weekly phone calls for awhile!

Week 1 items: 2 heads of lettuce, 1 bag of mixed cooking greens, 1 green cabbage, 2 bags of green beans, 1 cucumber, 2 yellow squash, 1 zucchini squash, 1 Patty Pan squash, 1 onion, 1 garlic, 1 small bag of pickling cucumbers, 10 green apples, 1 jar of homemade dill pickles, 1 bunch of beets, 2 eggplants, 1 basil, 1 dill, and 1 lemon balm.

Below are some photos – the cute farmer’s market basket was a gift from my mom a few years back which we use almost every time we go to a market!

Back with our CSA goods

The Patty Pan

Patty Pan

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