Healthy Mouthwatering Lunch

Organic Vegetable Box Schemes and CSAs

box of vegetables from a local CSA

Have you heard people go on and on about the great deals they’ve gotten through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or vegetable box scheme? These interactions between consumers and farmers can be a win-win – members of the community invest in a local farm, and in return get fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s tempting to jump in and try it…but is it worth it? How do you find a reputable one? It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before signing up. Here are some considerations.

How a CSA Works

A vegetable box scheme or CSA box is, basically, an agreement between you and the farmer. Most farms require that you sign on for a full season, and for a fee you receive a box of seasonal produce every week, every other week, or monthly, depending on your local scheme. The contents of the box are strictly seasonal; you won’t find summer squash in June, for instance. Some schemes will deliver to your door; others ask you to go pick it up on a set day.

Advantages of a CSA

Community Supported AgricultureThere are certainly advantages to signing up with a vegetable box scheme or CSA. For one thing, the produce is extremely fresh and organically grown. Here are some other advantages to consider:

* The distance between farm and table is reduced, thus reducing the use of preservatives on produce and the use of fossil fuels to transport the produce.

* The produce is in season, bringing you closer to the way your ancestors would have eaten.

* The food in a veggie box is usually much more affordable than a comparable amount of food from the store. You’re not paying for the transportation for one thing.

* You will get the opportunity to try new and unusual vegetables and fruits.

* You will be supporting your community and reconnecting with the origin of your food.

Drawbacks of a CSA

Of course, there are some drawbacks as well. Here are some to consider:

* You will likely have to sign on for a full season or even year; if you don’t like the way the service is going, you’re stuck with it.

* There may be large quantities of a fruit or vegetable you don’t know what to do with, or that no one likes.

* You can’t pick and choose the produce; you get what’s available, and sometimes there are substitutions (if the bell pepper crop doesn’t do well, for example, you may end up with eggplant instead).

* If you cannot make the pick-up time, you lose your produce.

Where and How to Find a Good Scheme

A good place to start is within the community. Ask around and find out who and what is selling. This is a good way to find out who has a good or bad reputation, too. You can also check at your local farmer’s market, as many farmers participate in CSAs. And of course, you can always do an internet search to find one in your area.

If you do an internet search, in your preferred search engine (if you live in the USA) type  Community Supported Agriculture….and type the city or state were you live. If you are living out side the USA check with your local government officials.

Here is another web-site you can use to find local farmers and participants of the CSAs in your area:

Local Harvest / Farmers Markets / Family Farms / CSA …

Image credits
Article Image: Wikipedia
What Others are Saying About Community Supported Agriculture:
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Foods to Freeze for Later Use

Foods to Freeze for Later Use

Fruit in Season: Cut up and freeze peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, or apples for a year-round vitamins and minerals. Before freezing add juice of half a lemon juice to the cut up fruits, to prevent browning while boosting vitamin C. Vitamin C is a heat sensitive vitamin not found in canned fruits.

Here is a video on how to freeze apples.

Freezing cantaloupe is simple. Cut in half…each half cut into four….remove the rind completely as well as the seeds. Leave in strips and place into freezer bags with wax paper in between fruit. Store the melon frozen from 4 to 6 months.

Pineapple is frozen the same a melons. Remove outer layer as well as all eyes, cut into rings, chunks etc. Place into freezer container with wax paper between fruit. Store up to 6 months.

Nuts: Nuts are a healthy fat. Now days they are too expensive to store at room temperature as they can go rancid. Protect their nutrition and your investment by storing them in the freezer.

Berries: Fresh berries can be frozen in your freezer. These include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Rich in vitamins and fiber, these low-carb fruit fruits give you nutrients and anti-aging antioxidants.

Here is a video on flash freezing blackberries and strawberries, but can apply to any berry.

Citrus Juice: Freshly squeezed citrus loses its vitamin C when bottled because of being pasteurized, which is a heating process to kill germs, but also destroys vitamin C. Freeze fresh juiced lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. Store the juice in ice-cube trays and use later when preparing recipes that require fresh juice or to use to prepare dressings for fruit salads, or to infuse water and teas with fruit juice.
Fresh Vegetables: Buy seasonal local vegetables at your Farmers Market and freeze them for autumn and winter use. Freezing them also retains their vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals and fibers unlike canned vegetables. You’ll also avoid consuming processed additives like sodium or sulfites. You can fresh freeze asparagus, beets, broccoli, green beans, peas, and carrots.

To freeze prepare the vegetables buy cutting them into your preferred sizes (peas not included), for carrots leave on their skin for added fiber.

Bring to boil 4 quarts of water and add cut vegetables and blanch for 3 minutes and remove from hot water and add to iced water for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from iced water and place into freezer bags or containers. You can store vegetables frozen up to 9 months.

Image courtesy of : Dessert Now Dinner Later

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