In spite of living in an area known for its farmers' markets and farms, I've found it hard to consistently get out and get fresh produce. So, I joined a local CSA - which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. At its heart, the CSA movement connects farmers directly with consumers. You sign up for a local farm's CSA, pay a regular fee (which is usually pretty affordable for the quality and quantity), and the farmer delivers a box for you - usually of pre-set produce.
(It makes sense - if the boxes are all the same, the farmer can keep expenses, and therefore prices, lower.)
Part of the fun of joining a CSA is that you never really know what you're going to get. Not only do you get good, fresh, locally-grown produce, but it kind of forces you to cook in different ways.
My first box consisted of the following:
A bunch of lettuce (tossed into a salad)
A bunch of Swiss chard (sauteed with garlic, lemon juice and parmesan)
A pound of small white potatoes (destined for a German potato salad)
Several heirloom tomatoes (eaten raw with buffalo mozzarella, and tossed in the aforementioned salad)
A pound of white nectarines (eaten greedily)
A pint of fresh blueberries (eaten greedily)
Several small red onions (stored properly)
A yellow pepper (given away)
Now, the key for my CSA (www.farmfreshtoyou.com), is that you can sign up online and they deliver right to your door. You can also ask for certain items to be left out of the regularly-scheduled box and replaced with other things. For instance, I am allergic to peppers, so they replaced the planned lipstick peppers with the potatoes (though one slipped in - no biggie). They also allow you to pick different boxes with different mixes of produce - this week, I'm going for more fruit.
So far, I highly recommend a CSA - especially if you can get one that delivers. I'll let you know as the weeks go on if the quality and convenience are worth the price. I'll also share a few of the recipes I've tried with the