Saturday, July 19, 2008

Shameless Weekly Errand

I have really enjoyed my biweekly shopping schedule. One day every other week instead of every other day all week? Awesome. I’m not sure which I liked more, saving the time or saving the money.

Then…something came up. It looks like this:

food glorious food

Can we just pause a moment to admire that? {bows head reverently}

This is a CSA (community supported agriculture) box from Fresh Edibles, an organic method farm in Stockton. I’d looked into them before, when I was first on my “why does produce taste so wretched?!” rampage last year, but at the time they didn’t have a drop-off location close enough to me. Driving thirty miles to pick up a $20 box of produce, and then thirty miles back home again…well. Even when gas was half what it is now, that just wasn’t going to happen.

But then I was flipping through a local paper a couple weeks ago and oh look, there’s that CSA up there in Stockton so close and yet so far blah blah blah organic methods something about boxes yadda yadda…waitasecond, they have a drop-off here in town now?!

About six seconds later I had signed up for the trial month. Every Saturday, a bin like this one is dropped off at a local health food store for me to grab. I didn’t think to photo-document last week’s box, even though it was so beautiful it actually took me aback. On their website, Fresh Edibles says that “every share is hand washed and arranged.” I expected this to translate to something like, “Given a quick hose-off and tossed in your box with at least some thought given to heavier-stuff-on-top. Most of the time, anyway.”

I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but this produce is clean. Oh sure, it came from a farm, it has some dirt or dust clinging to it and definitely you’d want to give it a serious wash before you pop it in your mouth…but I was really truly struck by how no, really, we mean WASHED-washed clean it is.

It is also most definitely arranged. This is more like a bouquet of produce than a box.

Also…it is delicious. That kind of being the whole point of the thing, I feel it is absolutely my duty to report on the flavor of this produce.

Let’s see…digging into my well-honed vocabulary…calling up the bardic genetics of my Celtic ancestors…hmm…ah yes, I have the perfect word:


Last week, the lettuce was crisp and delicious, slightly bitter-tangy and oh-so-fresh. The summer squash, on the other hand, had precisely zero bitter to it, and was sweet and buttery. The cucumbers were refreshing and mild, again without a bitter note anywhere in them. Our only complaint about the yellow corn was that we would have liked more of it. Which is going to be a problem even if they stacked the whole entire box with it and then also filled up the entire back of the minivan and possibly allowed us to fill up a car-carrier on TOP of the minivan, so, you know.

There are some areas where there really is no pleasing us.

Oh! And! The tomatoes.

Oh. My. Dawg.

The…tomatoes... {swoon!}

I wish I had a way to put one of those up on my blog so that you could touch and smell and taste these. They feel good in the hand, slightly heavy for their size with smooth, thin skins. They smell like summer – clean, a little tangy, a little savory.

And they taste…like tomato. Their flesh is firm and packed with juice (be careful when you add a slice or three to your sandwich!), and the flavor is just…well, it’s therapy.

The tomato, it speaks to me: “Remember how you liked tomatoes when you were a kid, but then slowly found yourself deciding you didn’t like them anymore? And you were kind of confused because usually it goes the other way and you start liking things as you get older? Yeah. It was weird all right…but THIS is why! What you’ve been eating? Not tomato. Me? I’m a tomato, kid. This is what a tomato is supposed to taste like, rich and sultry, deep and light at the same time. I’m supposed to be smooth like velvet, not mealy or grainy. I’m supposed to have a deep layer of tastes, not be a watery bland or bitter single-note waste of tooth-wear…awwwww, it’s OK, sweetheart. Go ahead and cry, let it all out…I understand…”

ALSO. Fresh Edibles makes the mistake is awesome enough to not only allow shareholder visits, but encourage them. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to take the Denizens out to see the farm, to see where the actual literal food they are eating is coming from, and meet the people who grow it.

It’s just something I really want them to recognize, that food doesn’t just magically appear. I want them to appreciate it, to look at an ear of corn and stop for a second to think about all the care that went into producing it. Sure, it may be just one ear of corn among billions produced this year…but it’s still somebody’s pride and joy.

Or should be, anyway.

I suspect at the Fresh Edibles farm, each shareholder box is packed to the brim with pride and joy.

So. I’m going to be stepping out for an errand every Saturday, hopefully for a long, long time to come, to pick up a box of seasonal exuberance.

And I am just ever so OK with that.


Ms. Packrat said...

Dang. We have a couple of CSAs here and while I understand they wanna have all their money up front for the season, it's just hard for a single woman wage slave to be dropping $400 in March against a summer of produce. And there's the "How much salad can she eat anyway?" issue.

Speaking of produce, I was just given a box of those green produce bags that keeps things from overripening - they *rock*

Tracy Motorsports said...

You're south of Stockton?? I'm in Tracy! Hi!
There's something about reading a blog that seems very remote, like the person must be states and states away, so when I saw Stockton, my eyebrows shot up and I had to leave a comment.
Fun blog - one of a select few that I follow thru google reader.

Anonymous said...

That box does look yummy. I hate store tomatoes - actually it seems wrong to even call them "tomatoes". I hate them to the extent that I've planted some tomatoes this year, just so I don't have to rely on the stores all summer. Now I'm REALLY eager for them to get ripe!

MadMad said...

Only you could make a post about vegetables, of all things, so funny and interesting! (And I TOTALLY agree about the tomatoes - the store ones are just not even the same animal, er... vegetable.)

Hilary said...

i love our CSA. love love love it. so glad you decided to do it -- I can already tell how happy you're going to be as time goes on.

and the denizens will have a great time visiting the farm. Tres cool!

17th stitch said...

I admit that I've been curious how the "shopping every 2 weeks" plan fits with feeding your family fruits and vegetables - my lettuce is always yucky before 2 weeks are past and we could fill the fridge with fruit and it would still be eaten in 3 days. The CSA explains everything!

Science PhD Mom said...

Oh yeah, that flavor is the best! I just shelled peas from my garden, and my corn is tasseling out. I have lettuces up the yin-yang to share with friends. A CSA is the next best thing--enjoy it!