Looking back, I should have joined a CSA when my son was little. Instead, he was the one who got me thinking about it when he was a young adult. He'd stop by for dinner or a snack and say, "Mom, you love to cook healthy food. You really should subscribe to a CSA." Our great fortune was that the only one serving our area at the time was Eatwell Farm. It's been...what...five years since our first "sample four-box" order? We can't even remember. But we haven't looked back.
The biggest change - apart from just eating healthier food and more produce - has been the way I cook. I love that the box simply shows up with whatever is in season. "No choices" means learning to cook vegetables I'd avoided at the grocery store because, well, I feared them. Turnips? Nope. Eggplant? Husband doesn't like. Romanesco? What's that? Greens? Boring. Spinach? Sure, as long as there's no mud. All of that changed when we committed to The Box. We've discovered delicious "new to us" produce, I've tried and clipped countless restaurant-quality recipes from Lorraine, and I've adapted old favorites to what I have on hand. Our mantra has been to eat everything in the box, and we can't believe how much more amazing our meals have become as a result.
Case in point: Last night I wanted to throw together a quick fish chowder without going to the store. I had fish in the freezer, a potato, some chicken broth, some clam juice, thyme, fennel, and some Eatwell onions and green garlic. But the recipe called for canned tomatoes, and I didn't have any. Time for a completely random substitute - a bunch of Eatwell spinach, washed and chopped. So delicious! Forget the canned tomatoes; this is how the chowder will now be made...until I improvise with another Eatwell ingredient.
Now, weekly meal planning happens the minute the box arrives. Greens? Hooray - soup this week! Or steamed greens with homemade marinara and a little grated Manchego. Romanesco? Steam reverently or turn it into Lorraine's fabulous soup. Eggplant? It's now greeted with cheers and the anticipation of a new favorite, eggplant lasagna. Turnips? Steam with carrot, onion, garlic and a potato, and puree with cream and thyme. And there's more: John and I have gone from suburban grocery store shoppers (broccoli, green beans) to people who braid garlic and pick enough strawberries to freeze for a year. But the biggest change has been in our cooking. I've lost track of the number of times he has said, "This is so delicious, you could make it every single night."
PS - Under that "mud" is the brightest, freshest, boldest, most robust spinach we've ever eaten in our lives!