Tag Archives: CSA

I heart MyFarm

I’ve mentioned before that my sister works for MyFarmSF, an awesome urban farm that installs gardens in people’s backyards, and harvests the produce for their CSA. Unlike other local CSAs, which get a lot of their produce from the Central Valley, MyFarm grows everything within SF, which I find totally amazing! I like to take the credit for my sister finding this job, since I read an article about them in Sunset magazine a year or so ago and let her know about it!

Anyway, she just dropped a big box of extra produce for me, and I’m psyched! Check it out – there’s braising greens, turnips, radishes, squash, potatoes, arugula, baby onions salad greens with edible flowers and a delicious smelling herb for tea. I can’t wait! I was out of town all weekend (for my roommate’s amazing wedding), and like always when I get back from traveling, I am craving vegetables like nothing else!

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This summer has been insanely busy for me, and last weekend marked the last one I had booked! I hope this means you’ll see many more blog updates from me in the near future – I’ve missed it! I also am thinking about a NY/Boston/VT trip, so East Coasters, stay tuned!

I forgot to add – if you’re looking for a CSA, MyFarmSF is always looking for new members! I think they’re a great and really unique organization and encourage you to check them out!

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CSA Bounty, or WHO Doesn’t Like Potatoes?

I just picked up my CSA produce for the week – check out this cornucopia!

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I got:
4 apples
4 oranges
5 FREAKING GIGANTIC red potatoes
Bunch of red beets (unpictured)
Celery
Kale

I usually get to order whatever I want, but this week I either didn’t get the email or forgot to order in time, so they gave me a selection based on my past orders and what they had available. I actually probably didn’t need the beets (got them last week and roasted them but still haven’t eaten them), but I’ll come up with something! Maybe I’ll enter the Blogger Secret Ingredient contest for the first time with some of these items, as long as I pick up some basil. Does anyone have any awesome recipes they want to share for any of these other ingredients? I won’t steal them for BSI, I swear!

Check out the cool reusable bag from my CSA, too! I alternate between that, providing my own bag (usually one from Whole Foods) and a big paper shopping bag which you can return to reuse. You can also return egg cartons which they will reuse even if they aren’t the same brand the CSA provides – pretty cool!

Seriously, how huge are those potatoes? Maybe they just look really big to me because red potatoes are usually so small.

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Funny story: My little brother, who is 6 (yes, big age difference), doesn’t like potatoes. I was on a walk with my roommate and telling her this story and I said, “I mean, WHO doesn’t like potatoes?” Her response, “um, I don’t.” It’s been a running joke between us ever since. Check out the note I left her on the counter. 🙂 It’s written on an old envelope I saved, of course!

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Going Organic in a Tough Economy

People often tell me that they’d like to eat organic, but that it’s too expensive, especially in these tough economic times. I understand – trust me. Money is definitely tight for me lately, as I know it is for many, many people. However, I think it comes down to priorities. You – yes, you! – can afford organic if you want to. It’s a matter of how you choose to spend your money. My sister, who I really admire and look up to (despite her being younger than me. She is taller, though, so it still works!), is currently looking for work, and money is very, very tight, but she will absolutely not sacrifice the quality of the food she buys, for environmental, health, and other reasons, such as supporting local farmers. I feel the same way – what I put into my body is very important, and I am not willing to sacrifice that, or deal with the environmental impacts that go along with eating foods ridden with pesticides and grown in unnatural and scary ways. There are other ways I can cut back, such as cooking more at home, bringing my lunch, not buying a ton of stuff I don’t really need, etc. Conveniently, many of these are the more eco-friendly way to go as well! Though I spend more on groceries than many of my friends, cooking a lot of my own food, even organic food, is definitely cheaper than eating out most of the time.

I just read a statistic in Eating Well that said choosing organic foods can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 68%. I’ll have to do a little more research as I don’t like blindly reporting statistics without knowing where they came from (though I guess I kind of just did, heh), but really, there is nothing to lose by going organic, not even money. It’s better for the environment, it’s better for your body, and it can even be better for your local economy. One note: pay attention to where the food is from! I would never suggest eating organic if the only food you can find is imported from very far away. I definitely plan on doing a local vs. organic post in the near future, but paying attention to food labels and information is key.

Here are some tips to help you eat organic, on a budget!

1. Shop Farmers Markets! This tip is given often for a reason – it’s a good one! Farmers Markets have a bounty of delicious, affordable, local, in-season produce. Plus, you often get to interact with the people who actually grew your food – how cool is that? You’re putting money into your local economy, directly to the people who give you the food that will nourish you. Win-win. Something to note: just because a farm stand at the Market is not listed as organic does not necessarily mean they are not organic, or grow their products with pesticides. Often the process of becoming Certified Organic is far too expensive for small farms, but you can absolutely ask them how they grow their products. Also, I just read about an organization called Certified Naturally Grown which was created to “provide an alternative way to assure their customers that they observed strict growing practices. CNG strives to strengthen the organic movement by removing financial barriers to certification that tend to exclude smaller direct-market farms, while preserving high standards for natural production methods.” Very cool.

Find your local Farmers Market using Local Harvest

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(Farmers Market in summer)

2. Join a CSA. Similar to a Farmers Market, CSAs allow you to get produce directly from Farmers. Mine is super affordable – I believe I pay $17.50 a week for an Extra Small bag, which has 6 items (one item could be a bunch of carrots, 5 apples, a head of broccoli, a bag of Brussels sprouts, etc). I like to pay by the season so the Farmers know they have money coming in!

3. Grow your own. This is an option I would like to explore, but have not yet. I really want to attempt to grow some herbs and easy vegetables up on my rooftop. I need to do a little more research on what grows well in this foggy climate!

4. Buy in bulk. I would like to do a further post on this as well, after I go to a great local co-op in the next few days. Most natural foods stores, and even some larger chain grocery stores, if that’s all you have nearby, sell all kinds of food in bulk. My favorite co-op, Rainbow Grocery, sells everything from nuts and oats to shampoo and laundry detergent in bulk. You can save money and save plastic and other packaging at the same time, by bringing your own containers to refill. Sweet!

5. Buy what’s in on sale season, and freeze it yourself. Produce that is in season often goes on sale when it is abundant – think berries in the summer, etc. I had the “Extra Strawberry Package” from my CSA over the summer, and got 3 containers of strawberries a week. Next summer, I plan on freezing what I can’t eat so I can have delicious organic fruit-year round. Eating by the season is wonderful, and we have seasons for a reason. Down with off-season berries from Mexico! I plan to do some posts on how to freeze fruits and veggies in the future.

Those are just a few tips to get you started! Let me know if you have any questions or need any help getting started on eating organic/local – I obviously love to talk about it!

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What I’m Cooking Today: Royal Purple

My CSA is off this week, and I just ran out of vegetables! After a fun boot camp class at the gym, I was totally craving Brussels sprouts (I’m weird, I know), but Whole Foods only had ones imported from Mexico. Boo! So I had to improvise. I picked up some California-grown organic purple cauliflower and broccoli to roast, and made a Fulton Valley chicken breast with pan gravy, from a Rachael Ray (hey, she’s not so bad IN PRINT) magazine recipe.

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Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli
Preheat oven to 400-425
Cut cauliflower and broc into even sized pieces, mix with small amount of olive oil (I used 1 tsp) and sea salt. Roast!

That’s it! I roasted them for about 30 minutes – just enough to the point where they were fork-tender with browned edges.

Chicken Breast with Pan Gravy (original recipe here)

You need:
Chicken breast
Shallots, minced
Wine (white or red, doesn’t matter)
Stock or broth (I used a veg bouillon cube – way less packaging! – mixed with boiling water)
Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400
Salt and pepper both sides of one chicken breast (the one I used was just under 6 oz)
Heat up one tsp olive oil over medium heat in a pan (I used stainless steel). When pan is hot, add chicken and sear one side for about 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it easily releases from the pan and doesn’t stick. Flip and sear the other side for another minute or two. Throw the whole pan in the oven for approx 15-18 minutes, depending on the the thickness of the breast.

Remove pan from oven and set on the stovetop over medium heat. Don’t forget the pan handle is hot!! I use a silicone handle sleeve, but before I got that, I burned myself many times. D’oh! Set the chicken aside on a plate to rest. Meanwhile, add the minced shallots (amount to your liking – I used a bunch!) to the pan and saute for a minute or two. Add wine (I used 2 oz of cab) and cook until slightly reduced, then add broth (I used about 1/3 cup), bring to a boil and let reduce. Add the chicken back to the pan to warm up a little. Serve with the sauce spooned over the chicken – and over the veggies, too, if you’d like!

This was a very purple meal, between the cauliflower and the wine reduction! Mmm, Anthocyanins. Nutritious, pretty low-calorie, and easy to make!

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What I’m Cooking Today

I have tons of veggies right now from my CSA, so last night I decided to use up my cauliflower. I never was a big fan of the vegetable (though broccoli is my favorite food) until I discovered roasting it. So good – it really changes flavor in the oven, getting all toasty and caramelized and burnt in places. I searched one of my favorite cooking blogs, 101 Cookbooks, and found a delicious looking recipe for Roasted Cauliflower “Popcorn.” Yum! I used panko and crushed red chile pepper instead of fresh, but it was still great.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

~10 g panko
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (I added more, but I looove salt)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed chili pepper (to your liking)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut cauliflower into small pieces.

Toss the cauliflower with olive oil and salt in a bowl until cauliflower is coated, then place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Try to spread the pieces out so they aren’t touching. Put in oven for 15ish minutes, until tender when poked with a fork.

Meanwhile, use the leftover olive oil in the bottom of the bowl you used to toss the cauliflower and add the bread crumbs, garlic, and chile pepper. Mix.

Pull the pan out of the oven after the 15 or so minutes are up and flip each piece of cauliflower over, then sprinkle the entire pan with the breadcrumb mixture. Return the pan to the oven for another ten minutes or so. The cauliflower should be browned in spots, tender and crispy.

As my main side dish, with scallops sauteed in garlic, and sliced heirloom tomatoes with sea salt, it was great!

On tonight’s menu: I’m thinking eggplant szechuan. I’ve got an eggplant from last week’s San Rafael Farmers Market, as well as a bunch of zucchinis, onions and broccoli to use up! I also have some “super firm” tofu and half a Fulton Valley chicken breast. Details to come

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What is a CSA?

For those interested in eating organic and local foods, a CSA is a great option. While I love going to the Farmers Market, sometimes I can’t make it there every week, so this provides me with another way to get fresh, local produce right from the farmers who grow it. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and they work a few different ways. My CSA, Eating with the Seasons, sends me a list of what produce they have each week, and I fill out an order form and pick up my bag of produce the next week. Other CSAs select for you, based on what their farm/farms have that week. I like the option to choose my own, and I’m trying lots of stuff I’ve never had before – parsnips (love them! Who knew?), collard greens, kale, rainbow chard. Many do drop-offs at volunteers’ houses (I pick mine up at a house right near my gym) or community centers, while others will deliver directly to your door. I personally pay by the season, so the farmers know they have that money coming to them, but there are many different payment options. Through mine, I can also order local products like Certified Humane eggs, olive oil, spices, granola, jam, etc! To find a CSA (or farmers market!) near you, check out Local Harvest.

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