Today is National Watermelon Day!! Don't let this picture fool you, I actually despise watermelon. I'm only smiling because I have plans to throw it off a roof later. muahahaha.
Just kidding, this watermelon won't be harmed, I'll probably give it to my mom. :)
As some of you may know, I joined the Farm Direct Co-op's Farm share program this year, and have been receiving a weekly share of locally grown fruits and vegetables. It's been a really great way to incorporate more veggies into my diet, and I've enjoyed learning how to cook with different vegetables that I probably wouldn't buy on my own. I knew joining the CSA was a good decision from the start, so I compiled a list of things I've learned so far:
- What IPM means. I figured that most of the food coming from the Farm Share would be organic. While the Farm Direct Co-Op strives to provide as much organic fruits and veggies as possible, the increased desire for more variety and the difficult growing season in New England, has lead them to choose IPM farmers whenever organic is not available. IPM or Integrated Pest Management basically means they only spray when they have to, and they try to use the least toxic chemicals possible.
- Organic vegetables go bad faster than store-bought non-organic produce. The week I got awesome colored carrots, I didn't eat them fast enough and they started to get soft and bendy. I was surprised because when I buy baby carrots at the store they are usually good for 2+ weeks. I did a little research and I found that some pesticides can act as preservatives and some foods like GMO's (genetically modified organisms) can actually be bred to last longer.
- Eating locally grown produce is not as limited as I thought. The variety of produce I've gotten is amazing. For fruits, there have been blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, and red currants. I don't like to buy berries at the grocery store because they are super expensive so this has been amazing for me to increase my berry intake. We have received so many different kinds of vegetables, too. The list goes on and on from radishes, beets, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, all sorts of greens (kale, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, napa cabbage, pointy head cabbage, red lead lettuce, basil), kohlrabi, garlic, carrots, potatoes, turnips, eggplant, corn, and more. I haven't needed to buy any vegetables from the grocery store, and that has been a time and money saver.
- Eating seasonally makes you more appreciative of certain fruits and vegetables. In the grocery store world, seasons only matter so much. When fruits and vegetables are being shipped from all over the world, more varieties are available, but it makes the quality go down. With the CSA, I got to experience strawberries picked at the peak of their ripeness. I definitely noticed a difference from store bought ones. The CSA strawberries were a lot smaller and went bad faster, but the smell and taste were unbelievable! I've experienced the same thing with tomatoes. I used to dislike tomatoes, but that was because most of the tomatoes I had were from grocery stores and had tough skin and pale red color. The CSA tomatoes on the other hand, are juicy and flavorful. When produce is picked or harvested at a farm a few miles away and brought to my town, it's incredible how much better things taste. I definitely have a higher appreciation for eating seasonally now, you can't beat it!
The farm share season is only halfway through so I can't wait to see what else we get. I'm super excited to see what we get in September and October. It will be awesome to get apples, and pumpkins, and other fall fruits and veggies..
I hope this convinces you to think about joining a CSA next season, or at least to start your own garden. Even though Farm shares can be pricey, I think it's totally worth every penny. It's great to have a fridge stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, and to reduce your carbon footprint. It's a win-win!
Have you ever participated in a CSA? What's your favorite fall fruit or vegetable?