Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Extras from the CSA

Yesterday, Ms. Sotorrific Twins asked a question about what you should do with stuff you get from a CSA that you don't want. I was going to just email her, but then I decided this could be part two of my CSA decision making series. Whoa, don't get me going, I might just post once every 6 months about CSAs!

The fact of the matter is, with many CSAs, you end up with vegetables you don't want. Some CSAs are structured where you get to choose what you want, but many just give you a box of whatever is ripe on the farm that week. So what do you do with the vegetables you don't like?

The first thing I'd suggest is TRY THEM! Search around for a different recipe that uses the vegetable in a way you've never tried. You're getting the most fresh of the vegetables...it hasn't been trucked across the country or sat in a warehouse for a week. You might be pleasantly surprised by a vegetable you thought you didn't like.

But, there's probably no way you're going to like everything. Kohlrabi is my veggie I don't want anywhere near me...I tried it a few times last year, and never liked it. I'm not sure yet if I'll even bother taking it at this year's CSA pickups. Icky! So here some ideas of what to do with those extras:
  • Talk to your CSA about setting up a "trade table", where people leave things they don't want and take something they do want. I mean, you're probably never going to find the popular veggies on the trade table, but you may be able to swap out your kale for kohlrabi or something. The CSA I belonged to tried this one week last year, and unfortunately, at least when I was there, the "trade table" just became filled with kohlrabi. I guess I'm not the only one who isn't a fan! But in theory this might work.
  • Talk to your CSA about the possibility of organizing a donation to a local food pantry or hunger relief agency (if any can use fresh veggies). People can just leave whatever they get too much of, or don't want, and then a volunteer (probably you, if it's your idea!) can deliver it to the charity. Our CSA donates to hunger relief agencies, and I absolutely LOVE this about them, and it was one of the main reasons I chose them. If there's stuff in our pickup I don't want or know I won't be able to use, most times I just don't take it and know it'll go to good use.
  • Offer the vegetable(s) you don't want to someone else who is there picking up at the same time. One week last summer, a family with a child with soy allergies offered us their edamame. I love edamame, so was quite excited! That vegetable you hate may be a favorite of the person standing next to you.
  • Bring the vegetables home and offer them to friends/neighbors/coworkers/family. Someone will probably want it.
  • Use the veggies to make stock, which can be frozen or used to make some yummy soup (thanks to the suggestion from Small Footprints. I've always been scared from some unknown reason of making stock, but I think I'll give it a try this summer!)
  • If all else fails, start composting. I mean, I would never take veggies with the intent of just throwing them on the compost pile, but if all else fails, and despite your best efforts you can't get rid of them and just can't eat them before they go bad, well at least with a compost bin/pile, it's not a complete and total waste.
One of the things I love about a CSA is getting to try all different veggies and getting a big variety. I think a traditional CSA works best for people who aren't overly picky about their vegetables. If you and your family are exceedingly picky, then a CSA that offers you choices of what to take would probably be the best bet for you. Or shopping the farmers' markets, where you have total control of selection and quantity.

What other suggestions do you have for using up those unwanted veggies?

So who else is CSA'ing this summer? Or farmers' market'ing? Yay, I love summer!


I'm going to be moving some of my posts from last year over to this site, to try to get related content all in one area, instead of spread out between different blogs :) This is my first try!

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