One of the things I find interesting about CSAs is the element of time. Sure, there is the concept of time from an agricultural perspective in terms of the varied seasons and growing cycles throughout the year. But I am referring to a different rhythm, one that is both unique and familiar to all CSA members – it is one that develops as a result of receiving a box of produce every week, like clockwork. For me, it begins every Thursday evening with the arrival of a new batch of vegetables and ends Wednesday night (or Thursday afternoon, if you want to get right down to the wire).
Don’t get me wrong, I love all aspects of CSA: the element of the new and unknown (curly cress?! purslane?); of surprise, both wonderul (tomatoes!! escarole!!) and maybe not quite so wonderful (peppers, anyone?); the freshness of the food that I’m eating (which has generally been harvested within the previous 24 hours of my receiving it); that I am directly contributing to the economic viability of a small, family run, organic farm that is 70 miles from me; that I personally know the farmers who are growing my food (hi Matt and Maggie and James! Oh, and Baby G!). But truth be told, there is one tiny element of stress involved. Really, it boils down to being an issue of having too much of a good thing and it can be summed up with this phrase: “make sure you use up your vegetables by the end of the week”. That is the mantra that rolls around my head every week – and to be fair, the same thing rolls around the heads of many (if not most) other CSA members who I have talked to. Today is Wednesday and it is with complete honesty that I tell you this: I still have an almost completely unused batch of vegetables in the fridge from last week.
I could certainly come up with excuses, valid every one – a long list of various deadlines and projects I have been working on over the past week, all important and all taking time away from cooking. But why bother with excuses? Fact is, I need to get up right now and start cooking. Apple sauce with rosemary + honey, Kraut Salat, stir fried bok choy + broccoli. The sad truth is that my CSA has only two deliveries left for this season. And I know how very much I will miss the weekly rhythm until it starts up again next Spring.