Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CSA Wrap Up

There's no need to call food hoarders.  Really.
I can stop any time I want!
What I really need in the day is about four more hours. Just four more hours per day.  That's all I ask.  I might spend part of it sleeping.  I'm not trying to be greedy.

It seems like I have a few too many things on my plate these days.  Between work being busy (not that work would affect my blogging in any way, because I would never blog at work, because that would be wrong), teaching and attending dance class, and trying to put a real (and interesting) meal on the table, I seem to have no time for blogging.  Oh, right, and attending culinary school.  And also taking a free class online through coursera.com (Principles of Obesity Econimics).  I guess my problem is I just try to do too much.  I would have though that now that canning season is over I would have more time - but that's just been replaced with trying to clean up the garden before the first frost... which I'm pretty sure was last night.  Come on, clock. Just four more hours!

Last Friday (yes, over a full week ago.  Stop your judging) was my last CSA box delivery.  Full of fall goodies like parsnips, potatoes, carrots, spinach, and buttnernut squash, it was a good way to say goodbye to a good year.

So, I did this as an experiment to see how a CSA works. I've never done it before.  Would I do it again?


I expected that the whole thing was a bargain. It seems like I was getting far more than the $19.25 that it averaged out for each week ($385 total for 20 weeks of delivery)And I do love a bargain. On the other hand, there was the opportunity for a lot of waste. I tried my hardest, but I know I lost several bunches of leafy greens, and a few bags of green beans.  If you're not willing to spend the day after you get your CSA pickling, freezing, or drying, you'd better be prepared to eat a lot of vegetables. I think that I'm pretty much stocked for the winter, though. Hopefully I'll  just end up buying some Growing Power lettuce.

The one thing that I like more than getting a bargain is PROVING that I got bargain.  So, to that end, here's what I think I received all year long, along with a breakdown of what those items cost on Peapod. Now, I realize that Peapod costs more than going to the grocery store, so these prices are slightly inflated - but on the other hand, I did get these groceries delivered so there are some similarities.

Item Times Received Price on Peapod Total price (peapod)
Arugula 5 3.99 19.95
Baby Beets* 2 3.99 7.98
Basil 10 2.49 24.9
Beet Greens* 7 4.99 34.93
Beets (regular) 8 3.99 31.92
Blueberries 1 3.99 3.99
Bok Choy 3 2.79 8.37
Broccoli 3 3.99 11.97
Cabbage 6 3.99 23.94
Cantaloupe 3 3.29 9.87
Carrots 9 2.99 26.91
Chard 7 2.99 20.93
Cilantro 4 0.69 2.76
Cucumbers 3 1.99 5.97
Dill 8 1.09 8.72
Edible Flowers* 2 1.99 3.98
Eggplant 5 1.99 9.95
Garlic 2 0.89 1.78
Garlic Scapes 4 0.25 1
Hot Peppers* 1 4.99 4.99
Kale 8 2.99 23.92
Kohlrabi 4 2.49 9.96
Leeks 8 2.99 23.92
Lettuce Mix 16 3.99 63.84
Mushrooms 6 2.99 17.94
Onions 7 1.09 7.63
Parsley 7 1.69 11.83
Parsnips 2 1.69 3.38
Pea Shoots 2 3.99 7.98
Potatoes 3 4.99 14.97
Radish Sprouts* 1 1.99 1.99
Radishes 5 1.99 9.95
Scallions 3 1.29 3.87
Spinach 6 2.79 16.74
Sugar Snap Peas 3 3.99 11.97
Summer Squash 9 4.49 40.41
Sunjewel Melons* 1 3.29 3.29
Sweet Peppers 9 4.99 44.91
Tomatoes 31 4.99 154.69
Turnips 2 1.49 2.98
Watermelons 5 4.49 22.45
Winter Squash 6 1.99 11.94
(*these items were not available on PeaPod.  So I basically just made up a price based on the price of similar things there, or how much they were at the farmer's market.)

Not bad... But there were still more things I needed. Canning requires onions, and four garlic scrapes are just not enough for this girl. The other thing I found was that things didn't necessarily come in the combinations I might have wanted. So if I got a bunch of tomatoes, for example, I might not get the onions, peppers, and garlic I needed to make spaghetti sauce.

The biggest problem I had, though, was that I always felt like I had to eat the things I couldn't preserve first, as opposed to the things that I wanted to eat. We got so much lettuce, I was making regular salads during the time that I would have preferred to be eating tomato mozzarella salad. But you can preserve a tomato, and you really can't preserve lettuce (except for my delicious lettuce pesto... But how much of that can I really expect to eat over the winter?). I really feel like we ate very few tomato mozzarella salads, which is sad because those are my favorites and I can eat regular salad all winter long.

So will I do it again?  Probably. I might try somewhere else, not because I had any issues with the RCVC, they are lovely people and amazing farmers, but I would assume different farmers would provide a different mix of vegetables, and variety is always a good thing. I also think I would like to work with a farmer that includes chicken as a part of their CSA. I miss getting a chicken delivered each week, and I find that we have been eating less chicken because of it. So much so that I needed to BUY chicken necks in order to make stock. Totally unacceptable in my mind.
I guess I've got the full winter to think about it. I will be back at the local farmers open house next spring, looking through the brochures and trying to decide what's what. For now, the pantry is stocked with canned goods, the freezer is full, and I've got three boxes of winter squashed stored under the back porch. I'm not sure why I never thought of using that as a root cellar before.

The Winter Farmers Market starts next week. There should still be a good selection of fall crops, so if you're not as stocked as I am, you might want to swing buy. I'll be there seeing if there are any chicken feet to buy, because so help me if I need to buy chicken necks again from Whole Foods!


  1. Where's the closest winter farmer's market? I've never gone to one.

    1. I am aware of two winter farmer's markets - the first is at St. Anns Center (near us) but I don't like it. It's small and more crafts than food. One time there was a clown. When I talk about The Winter Farmer's Market, I specifically mean The Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market, which is at State Fair Park at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center. http://www.mcwfm.org/

    2. Thanks. I might have to check that out this year.

  2. There is also a weekly Saturday market in Port Washington. In January it goes to once monthly.

  3. There is also a weekly market in Port on Saturday mornings. Goes to once a month starting in January.