Today marks the beginning of a new adventure in food for me. Earlier this spring I committed to being part of a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Essentially this is an agreement which exists between a group of local farmers and a group of local citizens. I agree to pay them for what they provide and they agree to supply me with locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and other items every week. It is a win-win for the consumer who wants to eat healthy food from local sources and for the local farmer/merchant who either cannot or does not want to complete with the large food conglomerates that largely control the grocery store market of America.
I have come close to doing a CSA for the past three summers. I have also talked myself out of it for the past three summers. What if all I ever get are bags of cabbage and onions? What if I get stuff I don’t know how to prepare? This spring, however, I found a CSA with a little different twist – the Fresh Fork Market (www.freshforkmarket.com). This CSA works with several local farmers and is thus able to provide a greater assortment of foods as well as additional items from local merchants that can be purchased with a weekly membership. The price is reasonable, the pick-up locations are convenient and the website has great resources – no more excuses for me. For the next 22 Wednesdays I will pick up a bag of fresh local food in Brecksville between 3-6 p.m. I still might get stuff I don’t know how to prepare, but their website is full of ideas. I have a hunch some of you share in my uncertainties, so I am going to post my experiences with this CSA so you can come to your own conclusions about whether this could work for you.
So, what did I pick up today? I pre-selected the “Small Omnivore” bag for each week, which is generally designed for a family of 4 or less and includes meat. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available, as is a “Large Omnivore” bag, etc. Here’s what came in my Fresh Fork Market bag for about $25:
- 1 whole chicken, pasture-fed
- 1 dozen organic eggs
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 head of lettuce
- 1 bag of pea shoots
- 2 lbs. organic whole wheat flour
- 2 lbs. organic black beans
Each week Fresh Fork Market has add-ons that can be ordered in advance and picked up with your regular bag. Here are the items I added on this week:
- 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
- 1 lb. sausage-bacon breakfast patties
- 1 lb. smoked turkey slices
- 1 lb. fresh tomato-basil linguine
- 24 oz. vanilla yogurt
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
- 1 jar roasted cherry tomatoes
- 1 jar heirloom tomato sauce
- 1 quart strawberries
The total cost of these add-on items was $50. So my total cost for this week was $75. When I arrived at the pick-up point, I paid for a loaf of homemade wheat bread as I had run out of bread today.
Because Fresh Fork Market sends out an email a few days before pick-up each week, I was able to make a menu in advance and then add on what I knew I would use. So here’s my menu for this next week.
- Wednesday: Burgers and a salad (using pea shoots with the lettuce)
- Thursday: Kale and Bean Soup for lunch, Roast Chicken for dinner
- Friday: Homemade pizza using the mozzarella and roasted cherry tomatoes
- Saturday: Black Bean Enchiladas
- Monday: Breakfast for dinner – Eggs with the sausage patties
- Tuesday: Linguini with the Heirloom tomato sauce with a side salad
(Lest you worry that we starve on Sundays – we usually eat out! )
Stay tuned for updates on whether my recipes and cooking skills work to make the most of this week’s products. On to making my first salad with pea shoots – who knew you could eat those?!