Tag Archives: CSA

A CSA On Demand: Peapod’s Farm Box Review

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a CSA farm share box…but just now and then instead of weekly?

CSA in a box

Peapod Local Farm Box

Do you know what a CSA is? “CSA” stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a way to support small and local farms while ensuring you get really fresh, local produce (or meat, etc.). Usually you sign on with a farm, usually paying the farmer in the winter, and in exchange for your money you get a portion of the harvest, usually in weekly increments during the harvest season (though meat-only CSAs tend to be monthly). You can do this for fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, or a combo.

I have been a CSA a member for 10 years. My first year, I split a small share with a friend (in which we received — and were totally mystified by — our first kohlrabi). While I love being part of a CSA farm (obviously), signing on with a CSA does take a certain amount of commitment, especially if you’re super-busy or live alone. Plus, you really need to stay on top of what’s in your produce drawers, because next week’s share pick-up will be here before you know it! It can also make meal planning a little tricky, if you are a die-hard meal planner, because you never quite know what you’re going to get.

(Of course, when you’ve been a member for a long time or grew up on a farm or just know the seasons, you have some idea of what’s going to be ready when: early June pickups that make for, quite literally, “salad days,” kale and beets in July, plenty of tomatoes and corn and potatoes in August, and the heavier stuff — winter squashes — coming as the temperatures cool.)

But maybe you don’t want the weekly commitment, or there’s no CSA near you. And you can’t get to the farmers’ market every week. Maybe you wish you could have a CSA on demand.

CSA you can order from Peapod

Peapod (the pickup and delivery service from Stop&Shop) now offers a Local Farm Box. It’s a multi-farm produce CSA that you can buy when you want it instead of committing to a season (or year). On the Peapod site, choose your region: Midwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic. For the New England Farm Box, Peapod partners with an organization called Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a  nonprofit that supports local farms, provides nutrition education, and has some other great programs.

I chose New England, of course. The site is really informative about the partner farms, how close the farms are to you, what’s available based on season, what to do with those vegetables, and a recipe that uses one of the week’s vegetables. The site also tells you what is in that week’s box and which farms the produce came from, which is handy information: I didn’t want a particular week’s box, because it contained a lot of green peppers. I’m the only green pepper eater in my house.

So I ordered the box the following week: kale, spaghetti squash, leeks, purple and white carrots, cabbage, and zucchini. Five. I should mention I also received zucchini earlier in the week from my farm share, and had (why??) bought some the previous weekend at the store. So that brought my household zucchini total to 14, but we love the stuff (and oh, time to make zucchini bread!).

Fresh and bright and local CSA

Fresh and bright and local

The box arrived at the specified delivery time (which was super-handy; I had it arrive in the morning, before we all left for the day, but maybe evenings or weekend work better for you). It was big, cold, and a nice weight. Inside were beautiful fresh vegetables: a spaghetti squash (yum!), leeks, dark-green kale, purple and white carrots, medium-sized zucchini, all looking very much like what I pick up on Tuesdays from my own CSA: fresh, bright, delicious. And carefully packed, of course, the heavy stuff on the bottom, kale and leeks on top. In the box was an informational sheet about Farm Fresh Rhode Island, the produce in the box, and the farms the veggies had come from. It also had a recipe (for my particular box, for Spaghetti Squash with Marinara, which was really good).

I will remain a loyal CSA member of my favorite local farm, Parker Farm in Lunenberg (I’ve been a member for so long that my newborn firstborn, now in second grade, nearly fell out of his ring sling into a crate of zucchini once when I was picking up my share). But I really like the Peapod Local Farm Box option. It is the perfect solution for anyone and everyone for whom a traditional CSA isn’t a good fit, or for someone who loves eating locally and seasonally but can’t get to the farmer’s market, or really for anyone who loves good fresh produce and supporting local farms.

Brilliant move, Peapod!

Wondering what to do with your produce and how to store it? Read How to Manage Your Summer Produce.

Disclosure: Peapod provided me with the Local Farm Box and some other groceries to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Meal Plan: Week of July 23

(Well, what’s left of this week…We just got back last night from a beautiful trip to Iceland to visit family! More on that later.)

We arrived home from the airport last night to find an enormous bag of vegetables* in our entryway. This wasn’t a shock. A friend who’s in the same CSA we had to drop out of this year is out of town this week and wanted to give her share to someone else. I jumped at the chance, even though our plane would be landing at Logan just as the CSA pickup was ending.

Fortunately, a few of our neighbors are in the same CSA and one kindly volunteered to pick up our share for us.

So we got home to find:

  • two heads of cabbage
  • two bunches of chioggia beets
  • two bunches of Swiss chard
  • two pounds of new potatoes
  • two cucumbers
  • two squash (some kind of green summery squash, similar to zucchini)
  • two pounds of Kentucky wonder beans
  • two bunches of Cipollini onions

[You’re probably thinking, “Why the hell did you drop out of that CSA??” Great question, and I ask myself that every day. But let’s move on.]

The food in Iceland was excellent, and we ate well. I especially enjoyed the hangikjöt on flatkokur, which we had for lunch one day when my sister in Iceland packed sandwiches for us when we toured the Golden Circle. (I promise, more on this soon!) Hangikjöt is smoked lamb, and it was in thin slices on this flat bread. I really like it. I liked all the food there.

But, you know, when you’re traveling, you don’t eat quite like you do at home, and you often want to try all the pastry shops and bakeries and local ice cream to see how they are. Well, I do, at least.

So it was a nice treat to come home to a million pounds of fresh green vegetables. Those vegetables will inform the menu for the rest of this week.

Wednesday: Zucchini and feta pie, Kentucky wonder beans, Balsamic Glazed Cipolli Onions (since I’ll have the oven going anyway!). Doesn’t that onion recipe look amazing?

Thursday: Chickpea Pasta, raw beet salad, sauteed cabbage.

Friday: Pizza, shredded cabbage salad.

Saturday: One of the Wildtree freezer meals (probably Tropical Glazed Porkchops), greens.

Sunday: I don’t know!

Lunches this week are looking pretty spectacular: huge chopped salads of beet greens and grated beets and shredded cabbage; garlic soup from a recipe I found in Yoga Journal; hummus from The Frugalette’s recipe. I’m so happy to be up to my ears in veggies! And this confirms that next year I will indeed be joining the CSA again.

* Which I didn’t photograph, as we were trying to get all the luggage and children and car seats unloaded from the taxi and up the stairs. Trust me, though: It was a beautiful sight.

Do you belong to a CSA? Do you alter or create your meal plans based around the local harvest?