I love broccoli and spinach. At about this time last year, however, I realized how bored I was with my two favorite vegetables. I craved variety. I would do something extreme.
So I signed up with Genesis Growers, a community-supported agriculture program run by Farmer Vicki Westerhoff.
Note: Farmer Vicki provided the pictures included with this post. Go to her website to learn more about her philosophy, her farm, and how to sign up for nine months of great eating.Every week from April through December I drove to the drop-off point about a mile from my house and picked up a box of produce. Occasionally my boxes contained broccoli or spinach or other lovely greens like chard or beet tops. They often included some of the best baby lettuce I've ever tasted. They provided us with asparagus, melons, strawberries, peaches, carrots, corn, peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, plums, apples, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and many other readily identifiable vegetables and fruits.
They also introduced us--and this was the fun part--to untried vegetables, ones I'd walked past at Whole Foods but had never bought. Here are some of the foods I prepared for the first time, thanks to Farmer Vicki: bok choi, napa cabbage, kale, sugar snap peas, bekana, white icicle radishes, spaghetti squash, mizuna, daikon radishes, kohlrabi, lemon basil, purple carrots (gorgeous raw, sliced on the bias), autumn poem, sessantina grossa.
To see a picture of the contents of one CSA box, go to this earlier post. In it I also recommend two fascinating books about food.
It's the off season now in the Midwest. CSA farmers are working in their greenhouses, but deliveries haven't begun. Farmers Markets won't open for another six weeks. This weekend I bought broccoli and spinach, still my favorites, but I bought other things too. I was pleased when the cashier at Jewel pointed to my bag of fennel and asked, "What is it?" A year ago, I wouldn't have known either.
If you live in Chicagoland, you can still sign up with Farmer Vicki. Choose spring, summer, fall, or any combination. You can also sign up for fresh eggs--flavor you won't believe--and gently grown chicken. If you live elsewhere, find a CSA or farmers market near you by checking one of these links in the left-hand column: Eatwild, Family Farmed, or Local Harvest.