Summer bounty: Take advantage of your local Community Supported Agriculture!

If you’ve never heard of CSA boxes before, now is the best time to learn about them as the bounty of spring and summer vegetables begin to appear everywhere- in gardens, in farmer’s markets, and even in your local grocery stores.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and these boxes are the best way to get a bang for your buck for local, organic fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

CSA Boxes

Currently, Brandon and I receive a weekly half-share from our local co-op, True Nature Health Foods, in Edgewater. Our boxes look like those above, but when you open them up, they look like my first picture- leafy greens, big carrots, fresh apples, and other goodies such as fresh herbs, wild mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.

It’s like a vegetable Christmas, and we look forward to opening that box every week!

If you live in the Chicago area, the following is a great resource to find your nearest CSA distributor- The Local Beet: Guide to CSA in Chicago. The local beet can also help you to find CSA’s nationwide. Health food stores and co-ops are great resource as well, and can help you to find the nearest community supported farm.

Not only do CSA farms provide you with vegetables, but they also often provide recipes for some of the less common vegetables that come in your boxes. They also try to give a great variety each week. Purchasing CSA boxes have not only broadened my tastes, but have introduced variety into my diet, and made me become a more adventurous cook. 

It’s incredibly enjoyable to plan a menu each week based on what I’m given in my box. I’ve turned it into a kind of game, to make sure that I make the most of my box, and eat things at their maximum freshness. It’s also made becoming a vegetarian much easier, as it forces us to eat everything in the box before we get the next one!

As we often get a large baggie of fresh basil in our CSA boxes, I’ve decided to share a recipe for fresh pesto, courtesy of Tiffany at her food blog, Eat at Home, that Brandon and I have started to use for pasta and pizza. We don’t have a food processor, so this is the best recipe for folks like us who have to get a little creative. Enjoy!

Homemade Pesto Sauce without a Food Processor
  • about 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • parmesan cheese, grated, maybe 1/4 – 1/3 cup
  • olive oil, maybe 1/2 cup
  • freshly ground salt

Chop the basil very, very fine. This could take some time : ) so have som patience! While chopping the basil, place it in a bowl and start to add a little bit of olive oil as you go. After you have the basil done, take the garlic cloves and crush them with the side of your knife to make them easier to chop. Add the finely chopped garlic to your basil, add a little more olive oil to taste. Lastly, add your parmesan cheese ( I like a lot, but you might like less!) and a pinch of freshly ground salt.

If you aren’t going to use it all at the same time, leave out the cheese and freeze it. Although, I’m not sure how it could last longer than a few days… it’s too yummy!

-Check out petitedancer25.etsy.com to purchase any of my items!-