Friday, April 15, 2011

Fair Shares Pick Up: Week 1

As some of you know, we have been on the waiting list to join a CSA for a while called "Fair Shares" in St. Louis.  For the record, there are not many CSAs in the St. Louis area (especially not compared to the population) and the ones that exist have waiting lists a year long.  Anyway, we received the e-mail that we were in for a full share for the 2011-12 season, starting at the beginning of April and ending in March.

So the idea behind Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is that small, local farmers, organic or not, need capital when they need to buys seeds, plant, and get things going... but don't get paid until they have a harvest.  Solution?  Community members commit to pay up-front with the understanding that they will get a weekly share of what the farm produces.  Fair Shares is a combined CSA, so some nice people organize a bunch of local farmers and producers.  The result is that we get a wider variety than just the traditional bunch of seasonal fruits and veggies.  And we possibly pay a little more for it.  We pay monthly, and it averages out to about $50 per week.

The process is fairly simple.  Every week at the same time we go to a pick-up site and get what they have for us.  The list changes every week and rotates for each pick-up site.  Okay, that's a bit complicated.  I'll keep it simple and stick to what we get each week.  

Week 1: 

Yellow Wood Farms Eggs (went to my mother-in-law since she watches the baby so much... and we have eggs already)

Hinkebein Hills Beef Bratwurst
If they look funny, it's because I didn't know that I wasn't suppose to remove the casing, and to my defense the casing looked different than I had ever seen before and didn't really cover the whole brat.  They still tasted great.  


Ozark Forest Fresh Mushrooms

It looks as if these are some of the seasonal selection, so we will be getting mushrooms for the next 7 weeks.  They are shitake and oyster mushrooms. This week it will probably be mushroom and spinach pasta for dinner.

Schroetter Farms Spinach
This got a very good soaking... several times.  The spinach was very crisp and good. It is also seasonal, so spinach for another seven weeks.

After a few rinses...

Final stage in the spinner...

Show Me Produce Mizuna
We had the choice of arugula or this delightful young mustard green. Next week (and for the next 7 weeks) we will probably choose other green selections. 

Marcoot Farms Cheese
It looks like we will get cheese or eggs every week.  We haven't tried this yet, but it might go well in our pasta sauce with the mushrooms and spinach.  We had a choice, and this one was supposed to be a bit sharp.  $5-6 for 8 oz.


  Hilty Pickles or Beets

(We chose pickles, but also bought the beets.  My husband was in heaven.  I liked them, too, and the baby enjoyed the beets. 16 oz. jars for $6)

Jailhouse Jalapeño Brew (spicy mustard)
Companion Pretzels
The big, fat, soft, delicious kind.  So guess what we had for dinner.

And for dessert... 

Frozen peaches that we bought for $6.50 thawing in the fridge.  With whole-milk yogurt.  Yum.

I had a few "moments" (i.e. uncomfortable moments) while cooking and eating tonight.  The first one was when I looked at the brats and realized I had never seen brats that weren't shiny from casing... which my husband informed me, when he came home, is usually animal intestines.  When I researched it, I found out that only the very best and most expensive brats are actually cased in real animal intestines.  In other words, the brats that I have eaten all of my life had man-made casings.  

I'm sorry.  Hold the phone.  

Man-made from what?  I don't actually know.  Anyway, tonight I thought that the brats were wrapped in paper, but what I didn't know I was looking at was real, dead animal intestine...  which would have made them a little more shiny that what we ended up with.  However, like I said, they were delicious. 

The other moment was when, as we enjoyed our very local dinner, I realized that although I said I was not the kind of person who would intentionally spend more money on food because of  X, Y, or Z... I did.  I spent more on food because it was local.  And really... natural.

I do have my limits.  For instance, although I have been looking into switching to raw milk for health reasons, raw milk is $10.50 per gallon.  I feel like that is going too far.  And yet, I just brought home 8 oz. of cheese for $6.  

The verdict is still out, but this is only Week 1.  Stay tuned!

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