The Free Wean Green Holiday Gift Guide is out – featuring recipes from my fellow Culinary Nutrition Alums/Students Sylvie Boivin, Rachel Druckenmiller, Lindsay Dytham, and Michelle Vodrazka, among other contributors. I’m particularly excited to try Michelle’s Raw Chocolate Brownies and Rachel’s Protein-Packed Pumpkin Spice Dip! ENJOY!
WTF is…a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system of farming and food distribution that requires an upfront investment for “shares” of produce. As a supporter, your investment helps the farm plan their growing season and assists in covering their upfront costs.
You can think of a CSA as a subscription service. The shares are later delivered to designated pick-up spots (some even deliver directly to your door) the same day every week for the length of the harvest season. Share costs and details differ from farm to farm, so make sure you read up on the farms in your area before you join.
Investing in a CSA farm is a great way to ensure your family receives high-quality local and seasonal food.
- You receive weekly boxes full of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. You may be introduced to (and pushed to cook with) produce you have never heard of before. This season I was exposed to “new to me” veggies like garlic scapes, romanesco, and kohlrabi. YUM!
- The weekly cost break down may be cheaper than you expect. Say a ½ share from a local organic farm is $300 for a harvest season that spans June to November, approximately 20 weeks. That breaks down to $15 per week, which is likely less than you would pay for the same produce at your local organic market.
- You get to know the farmers that are producing your food. You have a direct line of communication to the men and women growing your food and can ask all your burning questions. Some farms allow you to visit the farm to see how they operate and may offer volunteer opportunities.
- As the CSA model increases in popularity, more and more farmers are allowing for more flexibility. Many farmers, including the organic farm I chose to purchase from, offer pick-up sites where you can “create your own box”, so you have a bit more control over what you take home each week.
- You are paying up front, so some budgets just don’t allow for this type of system. In this case, I recommend local farmers’ markets where the cost per week for fresh produce may be higher, but you won’t need to pay up front. Many of the farms that participate in CSAs also vend at farmers’ markets.
- The contents of each box is a surprise. If you are Type A like me, this can be REALLY difficult. You may have to adjust your weekly grocery trip during harvest season. Ideally you would pick up your share first, then meal plan around what you receive, factor in pantry items you have and build a shopping list from there.
- You share a level of risk with the farmer. Weather conditions can be unpredictable and may have a direct impact on yield.
- If you go on vacation during the harvest season, you may miss out on a pick-up or two. This is great opportunity to offer a week of your share up to a friend. Many CSA farms will donate anything that is not picked up by a certain time, so there is no fear anything will go to waste.
To find a local farmer in your area that participates in community supported agriculture head over to Local Harvest and enter your zip code in the search box. Currently Local Harvest only lists participating farms in the United States. Are you outside of the U.S.? Search “(your city) + community supported agriculture” in your favorite search engine.
Do you belong to a CSA farm share? If so, how has it worked out for you?
This post is part of my new weekly blog series, “WTF is _____?”. With this series I aim to educate readers about confusing or obscure nutrition, health and wellness topics. Do you have suggestions for a future “WTF is ___?” post? Leave them in the comments below!
Awesome Project: The Passion Planner
I have been giving a lot of thought to my next work and personal planner purchase(s). I have explored a wide variety of product reviews because I enjoy researching the crap out of something before I take the leap. In the process, the universe sent me a link to the Passion Planner – an appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & person and work to-do lists all in on notebook. These are all things I have liked about various planners, but haven’t been able to find in one place. Angelia launched the 2014 version and had huge success, raising more than $48k in 23 days to make the first version of the planner a reality. For the 2015 launch, she is raising funds for a smaller version of the planner – 5.5″x 8.5″. So far, the campaign has raised $400k with 16 days (as of this post) to go.
I love that she has included a gratitude log, as many of us can get lost in the details and overwhelm of a given day or week. The brainstorming/sketchbook section is a great addition – and in my mind a “free play” area you don’t get with other planners. The goal mapping area is GREAT for visualizing goals and breaking them down into manageable parts.
Not only has Angelia created a kick-ass product, but she is giving away the PDF for free for those who get out the word.
“I have so much belief that Passion Planner can be a catalyst to change someone’s life that I feel that anyone should be able to use it regardless of their financial ability.
That’s why I’ve decided to share it for free.“
I’m backing her project, and you may want to as well. Head over to the Passion Planner’s Kickstarter page for more details.
I’ve struggled over the last few years to find my footing on the internet, in particular, to established a home – a website and blog. I’ve tossed and turned over the details, down to the fonts and background colors of WordPress themes. I’ve struggled to commit to such a long-term project. I research and write for my day job and I’ve asked myself over and over if I really want to come home and do more of the same (excuses much?). The answer is yes, when the subject matter is what I’m passionate about – health, wellness & art. Deep down, I think this struggle has been more about being vulnerable. I WANT to create and share – writing, recipes, art and photography (among other things), but it comes down to the FEAR of sharing those things with the universe. One of my favorite people, Brené Brown, has written and lectured extensively on vulnerability and shame. She speaks to me, and I imagine many people, in a way that I’m not sure anyone else ever has.
One of my favorite quotes from (a Forbes interview with) Brené:
The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.
This is where shame comes into play. Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering “You’re not good enough” in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.
I’ve let the gremlin drive. I’ve let him/her/it stand in the way of my creativity and desire to put things out there in the universe. Things can get pretty meta when you start worrying what people will think about you worrying about what people will think. Hustling for my worthiness, as Brené puts it,
no longer serves never served me. This website, which my fiancé very lovingly purchased for me as part of his marriage proposal, DOES serve me. This is a new home for me, a chance to start over, a place to put down roots and be vulnerable. A place to try things, fail, succeed, pick myself up and BE ADVENTUROUS. Here we go!
Recipe Round-Up #1
Campaign news: My indiegogo campaign is finishing up with 40 hours left and 10% to go. After my culinary nutrition certification, my goal is to offer my time, knowledge, and resources to help fellow cancer survivors and their families introduce more whole foods into their diets to help healing and prevent future disease! Contribute if you can and please spread the word!!
I’m starting a new weekly feature here, Recipe Round-Up! I sort through recipes to find the healthiest and yummiest on the web and share them here with you. Here goes week 1!
Sweet Potato Bean Fritters – vegetarian & vegan
This week I guest blogged a recipe for sweet potato bean fritters over on Let’s Give Peas a Chance. I love to make these with left over sweet potatoes, because the hardest part of this recipe is just waiting for the darn sweet potato to bake (I’m so impatient). My favorite way to enjoy this recipe is over salad greens with a side of hummus, but you could easily add a bun and call this a veggie burger. Hearty and filling with crunch on the outside for some great texture.
Roasted Red Pepper & Carrot Dip – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free
Sondi over at The Copycat Cook has this great veggie dip recipe. Not only is this recipe only 6 ingredients, but it’s a great way to mix things up when you are getting bored with your variations on hummus. The vibrant color of this dip reminds you to eat the rainbow. 🙂
Homemade BBQ Sauce & Ketchup – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free
I know from a lot of my gluten-free friends that it’s really hard to track down condiments that don’t use wheat gluten as a stabilizer/thickener. Meghan Telpner has you covered with these recipes to make your very own BBQ sauce and ketchup from scratch. Get your mason jars ready!