CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's the simplest way to eat local and organic. It's great for people who don't have time to get to the Farmer's Market. This week's delivery includes a watermelon (!), a French Cavillion melon, white nectarines, mango nectarines (which are supposed to taste like mango), grapes, kale, red leaf lettuce, a huge bunch of basil which is supposed to last for weeks in water, Armenian cucumber, onions, garlic, potatoes, baby heirloom eggplant, assorted summer squash, beets, okra, cherry tomatoes, an heirloom tomato, and the treat is a cherry white chocolate blondie. What do you think I tasted first? Before they started a CSA, Auntie Em's was famous for their baked goods.
I'm particularly excited about the okra because my husband is from the south and we both loved the fried okra his aunt Mabel used to make. I asked her to write out some of her favorite recipes for me, and for the okra recipe she wrote "you'll have to use frozen okra." I wish she were still alive to see me making fresh okra! I can't wait to try it.
A reader asked me to describe how I wash and store all this produce. If I ever have a question, I send an email to the chef at Auntie Em's, who runs the CSA. She usually responds within a short time, sometimes immediately. But generally she has told me to wash right before you're going to use something, and store everything in the crisper. Greens go in plastic in the crisper, but everything else - potatoes, squash, beets, baby onions, etc. - can all be stored loose in the crisper.
So far that system is working, because this is our 6th delivery, and I have yet to have anything go bad on me. I'm very careful about using it all because I would hate to see anything go to waste. I try to use the ripest and most delicate items within the first few days, and save the root vegetables and potatoes for the second week.
I can't recommend joining a CSA highly enough. You'll be doing yourself and your family a big favor. Everything tastes absolutely delicious, you're supporting local farmers, you'll become a better and more creative cook, and it's so convenient. Best of all, this convenience has not caused my grocery budget to go up at all. With all this fresh produce to eat, I buy a lot less snack foods. Joining a CSA is good for your health AND for the environment. What a great win/win.
If you live in Los Angeles, Auntie Em's delivers to a wide area. And they even provide a weekly recipe along with a list of what's in your produce box. I've posted their recipe for Stuffed Baby Heirloom Eggplant below this post.
Are you a member of a CSA? Would you consider joining one? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the Comments section.