Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hooray for CSA's Part 2: Growing Little Locavores

The following is an article I recently wrote for the Green Earth Institute, the Community Supported Agriculture program of which I have been a member the past 8 years...

When I first discovered the Green Earth Institute’s CSA program in 2002, I thought it would be a great way to expand the limited, and somewhat picky palates of my two young children. Each Tuesday night venture to the farm that first season became a lesson in new and unique produce, items not normally found on my grocery list. “No that’s not a leafy octopus. It’s a kohlrabi.” “You’re right fennel does look like feathers and taste like licorice.” Thanks to the CSA, my kids soon learned to enjoy snacks such as kale chips and hakurei turnips, where once only peeled and sliced apples would suffice.

As our family expanded to include a third child the lessons my children gleaned from the CSA expanded as well. Through the farm’s camps and u-pick days my children came to appreciate the hard work hidden behind the peas and carrots dished onto their dinner plates. They learned how organic farming helps keep the earth and people healthy. They also discovered the rhythm of the growing season. They began to anticipate the treasures waiting in the pick-up bins from week to week: lettuce first, tomatoes later, and the coveted watermelon just in time for school to roll around. After a long winter of bland supermarket veggies, my youngest would jump for joy when he spied French breakfast radishes in our CSA order. He’d crunch into the radishes with a huge grin, understanding with each bite that in-season produce simply tastes better.

This season, my children have been learning something new from our CSA involvement: how to cook. On Tuesdays, my oldest daughter surveys the week’s bounty and peruses the newsletter for enticing recipes. Then she plans and prepares a meal, challenging herself to use as many local ingredients as possible. She enlists her younger brothers as sous chefs, and soon everyone is measuring, mincing, and mixing, turning my kitchen into a disaster zone. But the mayhem is worth it when the three young chefs serve up their creations with huge I-made-it-myself smiles. Recently, after a successful meal of fennel apple soup and eggplant dip on crackers, my daughter declared “I’m going to open a restaurant someday and grow all my own ingredients so everyone can enjoy fresh and healthy foods.”

I joined the CSA hoping to teach my children not to grimace at green veggies. I never imagined they’d receive such an education in eating healthy and caring for the earth. Thanks to the Green Earth Institute, I know my families’ enthusiasm for fresh, local produce will continue to grow in the seasons to come.

Check out the Green Earth Institute's website for more information and some great recipes using fresh, local produce:

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