Many people are more conscious of the food they buy these days, especially with produce. Pesticides and other chemicals used to maintain flawless fruits and vegetables undoubtedly are not healthy for our bodies. Organic produce not only is free of these chemicals but the taste is incomparable, and local farms pick the produce when it’s ripe so there is no refrigeration and ripening on the market shelf like with most fruit…the difference in taste is astonishing.
Some markets have limited supplies of organic produce, and at times it is not so fresh. There is a great alternative to getting your weekly organic produce, and I guarantee it will be FRESH and delicious. If you have not heard of CSA’s , short for Community Supported Agriculture, these programs are fantastic. Local organic farms have members who pay to receive boxes of organic produce each week. The number of members determines how much produce the farmers will plant and harvest.
If you live in San Diego county there is a wonderful CSA called Be Wise Ranch. You can visit their website at http://www.bewiseranch.com/joinCSA.htm. Here’s how it works: you pay either $25 or $30 per week, depending on whether you want to receive a large or small box of produce each week (I have a family of 4 and the small box is perfect). The fees are prepaid on a quarterly basis and there is a $20 non-refundable membership fee.
Each week you go to a designated location near you (usually it is someone’s home, where the produce boxes are stored on a side yard), sign for your box and transfer your produce to your own bags or basket. You usually receive about 10-12 different items. There is normally lettuce and lots of incredibly fresh tomatoes (most times you get different varieties like heirloom and beefsteak and cherry), and other items like fresh beets, melons, carrots (if you have never eaten a fresh organic carrot you are in for a surprise…even my kids think they taste “way better”), greens, onions, squash, citrus fruit and seasonal produce.
CSAs are a great way to assure your family is eating not only quality and delicious produce, but pesticide-free produce. It is fun to get your box each week and discover what is inside…sometimes you may get something you never used before, and it is fun to find recipes to try something new. There is always a content list for both box sizes under the sign out sheet. A few weeks ago we had a yellow watermelon in our box. I have had these before but they are hard to find and I have to say that this particular watermelon was the best I ever tasted, as were the pluots and oranges that came last week.
If you do not live in the San Diego area use a search engine to find out if there is a CSA near you, and bon appetite!