It is a real thing…vegetable guilt. It is a stumbling block for those new to a CSA and for those who love being a member of a CSA. That feeling of dread when you open the fridge and see a pile of vegetables that are past their prime and in some cases WAAAAAYYY past their prime. I accused my best friend of running a vegetable morgue when I was at her house last summer and she loves CSAs. Here are some thoughts and tips on dealing with and moving past the vegetable guilt and falling in love with the CSA.
1. As a CSA owner…we don’t take the loss of vegetables in your fridge personally. We love that you are willing to try new vegetables and are committing to purchase the best, fresh local produce. We understand that all of our vegetables are not going to be consumed at their prime or at all. Our goal is to challenge you to try new vegetables with full knowledge that you and your family will not love all of them. We know that life gets in the way of cooking some weeks. We know that you may not have the recipe to cook a new vegetable. Guess what??? We each have our own little vegetable morgue in our fridges!!! Ours eventually makes it to the chicken or pig pen to convert to eggs and bacon.
2. Plan for the future. So many of the vegetables that are moving past their prime can be preserved and used in the winter months when fresh, local produce isn’t available. The quickest solution is the freezer. Peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, beans, beets, carrots and corn can all be frozen and dumped into a crockpot soup for a winter meal. Try your hand at quick pickles for the fridge or go a step further and change cucumbers into canned pickles. Create a small drying rack to preserve the fresh herbs…it can be beautiful and functional.
3. Consider your normal waste. We love that you think our veggies are special and deserve to be used but how much food is typically thrown away in your house anyway? The average American family of 4, throws away 25% of their purchased food. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT!!! That comes to about $2,200.00 annually! We could definitely take some lessons from our grandparents who lived during the Depression. What could you do with that 2K if you learned how to preserve and eat leftovers? If this is your average waste, you could throw away 4 ½ of the weeks of produce and be on par with your normal waste! We are not advocating this but are using the data to make the point that you might be a little over concerned about how many of our vegetables don’t make it to your plate. It might just be your normal household waste and you consider our vegetables extra special so you have an extra dose of guilt????
4. Share the bounty. Did your husband just bring home your CSA box and you know that you aren’t going to use the kohlrabi or cabbage or beets? Call your best friend, make a visit to your mom or walk across the street to your neighbor. Garden fresh veggies are normally welcomed in any home! An even better idea…find a recipe and host a BBQ with your favorite people! You won’t feel the pressure of finishing the new dish all by yourself and you may get some great suggestions from your friends for how to improve the recipe or an even better recipe to try next time!
5. Make a new friend. We know that often everyone is in a rush to get to dinner, the next baseball game, to mow the backyard…. Take a few minutes at the weekly pickup to make a new friend. These families are cooking with the same ingredients as you! I have gotten some great suggestions for new recipes by just chatting for a few minutes with a member. You may find one that would love to swap their kohlrabi for your beets or your corn for their lettuce. Need help breaking the ice? Just ask us and we may have a suggestion for who would be a great match!
6. Take a look at your kitchen tools. You don’t need fancy tools in your kitchen but well maintained tools make the cooking process so much more fun and relaxing. Could your knives need a quick sharpening so chopping up veggies is easier? Do you need to dig out a sauté pan that hasn’t gotten much use? Does the grill need a good cleaning so you can throw on a set of veggie kabobs? Interested in a food processor or spiralizer? Borrow one from a friend to give it a try before you make the investment on your own. Maybe it would be fun to support another local business and host a Pampered Chef party.
Move past the vegetable guilt! The benefits of fresh veggies far out-weigh loss of the ones that don’t make it out of the bottom drawer. Remember that now is the time to be committing to fresh vegetables for 2017. Sign up deadline is March 18th.
I added at the bottom the actual baskets that we put together for our 2016 members. Take a look at our variety but also the favorites that we try to build into each box. We have even more plans for expanding the weeks of our core crop harvests in 2017.