Cooking delicious and healthy food gives me an incredible sense of joy. It’s creative – a dash of basil here, a dollop of coconut oil there, and voila, a taste sensation! It’s relaxing – mixing, and sifting, and stirring, and tasting, all the while watching episodes of my favorite TV shows on my computer (currently, Top Chef). It’s tasty (um, duh), and it feeds my family. I try to cook dishes that are Paleo, as well as those that use fresh, local, and organic ingredients, so long as doing so is financially reasonable.
During Minnesota’s 6+ months of winter, cooking fresh, local, and organic is SOOOO much more expensive than during the summer, which is why I’m thrilled that it’s already time to sign up for CSAs (read: Community Supported Agriculture).
If you’ve never bought vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, or cheese from a CSA, I understand where you’re coming from. Last summer was the first time we did because I was worried (as you might be) that the CSA box would be too much for my small family to eat, or that I would end up with odd vegetables that I wouldn’t know what to do with. DON’T let those reasons stop you. Here are my Top Five Reasons to sign up for a CSA with the CSA that I’m personally in love with – Easy Bean Farm, plus a special discount for signing up early.
Top Five Reasons to Sign up for a CSA with Easy Bean Farm:
- You get a huge box of awesome vegetables each week from early June to mid-October (approx. 17 weeks). The box usually contains 10-15 different items including all of the regulars plus herbs, heirlooms and a few unusual varieties. The cost is $620 for a full share for 17 weeks, or $425 for a half share for 17 weeks = basically around $36 for a massive box of vegetables every week all summer long – NICE!
- It’s run by the only Jewish organic farmer in Minnesota, Mike Jacobs. That’s damn awesome. Enough said. You can read about Farmer Jacobs’ thoughts on Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) through farming and their practice of getting extra produce to foodshelves as a hat tip to the ancient Jewish practice of leaving the corners of the fields for those in need.
- If you want to cook with fresh, local, and organic ingredients, it’s cost-effective and convenient. Yes, Farmer’s Markets are awesome, and I’m a huge fan, but going to a Farmer’s Market is an “activity” — as in, you have to get dressed, put your kids in the car, and drive somewhere to shop for an hour to get what you want. Easy Bean does the picking for you, and they have pick off locations around the TC, including several at Jewish institutions (Adath, Bet Shalom, the Saint Paul and Sabes JCCs, etc). Re: the cost, I haven’t compared Easy Bean Farm to other CSAs so I can’t weigh in there, but $36/week for WAY more veggies than I need (see: #5 below) is so worth it.
- You’ll have fun cooking with the vegetables, even the weird ones. Yes, you’ll get vegetables in your CSA share like yellow wax beans, kohlrabi, swiss chard, pac choi, phallic looking eggplant (you’ll believe it when you see it), and lots and lots of kale varieties. Consider it a bit of a Chopped TV challenge – what can I cook with these vegetables that my family will like? Give yourself a time limit if you want. Many of the vegetables will be stuff you WANT to and — dare I say it — SHOULD eat more of, like peppers, and tomatoes, lettuce and squash. You can give away whatever you don’t eat to your friends, or transfer some of your vegetables to the Food Shelf CSA Box (if your drop off location has one set up in its kitchen), but see my tips on giving away vegetables below.
- You’ll have enough vegetables to freeze a ton for winter, when local and organic vegetables are super expensive! Win! And if you’ve never frozen vegetables, it’s easier than it sounds. Check out my How to Freeze and Store Food Pinterest Board for some advice on how to freeze muffins (and here’s an insanely awesome recipe for Paleo kale, egg, and chives muffins that freeze really well), peppers (the tips work for potatoes and butternut squash too), and herbs.
And there’s a discount – hooray!
Sign up for a 2015 Easy Bean Farm share before February 18th with the coupon code “EARLY2015” to get $20 off your share.
Whether you sign up with Easy Bean Farm or another CSA, I hope you’ll join me and take the plunge into crazy amounts of organic and local vegetable eating this summer. You definitely won’t regret it!
For more info check out TC Jewfolk’s article (with photos) about Easy Bean from last year.
UPDATE: I just learned that there’s a Jewish -run farm in Wisconsin that delivers CSA shares to the Twin Cities called Avodah Farm, LLC. That’s awesome. You should check them out too.
BTW: I offered to write this post for Easy Bean Farm ’cause I think they’re awesome. They aren’t giving me anything as a perk to write this.