Zero Waste CSA Week 1
Last summer was the first time that we tried a local CSA (community supported agriculture) program. We had a great experience with the regular deliveries of fresh, organic vegetables. We were able to meet the farmers and visit the farm that was raising our food. We loved knowing exactly where our food was coming from, supporting a local farm, and trying new veggies. CSAs are also more budget friendly than shopping at a farmer’s market or organic section. Last summer we challenged ourselves by cooking with new veggies and recipes, and trying new things. This year we are expanding on that challenge: creating as little waste as possible with our CSA.
During our last CSA, there were many parts of the veggies than we ended up throwing away, or we didn’t end up eating because we had an abundance of certain things. This summer is going to be different. We want to challenge ourselves by eating all parts of the veggies and coming up with new recipes to try. I am certainly not a cook, and this is certainly not a cooking blog… but I will be sharing some thoughts, recipes, and tips as we challenge ourselves in this way!
Our first delivery was this week. The first way to be waste-free is to bring a reusable bag to the pick-up site. Many CSAs will just have you pick up a box to take home. Instead put everything from your box into your reusable bag and leave the box for them to use the next week. I have a bag similar to this one, and I love it. Even if you are a farmer’s market shopper rather than a CSA member, you can follow this tip!
Since this is an early shipment, this week had a lot of lettuces, spinach, radishes, scallions, potatoes, strawberries, herbs (potted), and bok choy. The strawberries were gone within a day because we couldn’t help but snack on them raw right away. Here are the recipes that I used this week:
- Radish Top Soup — This is SO good. I made it several times last year during our CSA, and I already made it again. I used up all of the radish greens, a few of the radishes, and all of the potatoes, for this recipe. With the weather being 90 degrees in Minneapolis currently, I just made the soup to freeze for another day. I could certainly eat soup every day of the year, but Collin is a cold-weather-only-soup-eater.
- Stir-Fried Chicken and Bok Choy — I have made bok choy with other recipes before, but this one is now my favorite. It’s easy and I already had most of the ingredients. I ended up using two heads of bok choy in this one. It may seem like a lot of greens for you, but trust me– the veggie breaks down a lot.
- Cremini Mushroom Pasta with Arugula and Goat Cheese — The last two CSAs that I have been a part of have given several different recipes and tips for your box that week. This was one of the recipes from our farmers, and it was great. I think I could live on goat cheese. Ps. this recipe will change your life.
- This website has all sorts of tips for using strawberry greens. I love the idea of using the greens to infuse water or kombucha! You can also use the strawberry tops for making flavored simple syrups for cocktails.
- We also ate lots and lots of salads this week with all of the lettuce, arugula, and spinach. I don’t usually have time to put my lunch together in the mornings, so I am more likely to eat healthy and eat salads if they are already put into single-serving containers. This may be common sense, but it’s important to store the dressing separately so that the leaves do not get soggy.
- You can also make vegetable broth with your leftover veggie scraps. It’s incredibly easy– just collect your vegetable scraps in a large ziplock bag in the freezer until you have enough scraps to use. When you’re ready to cook, you’ll also want to add garlic, ginger, and/or fresh herbs. You just combine everything in a large stock pot with just enough water to cover, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer it for an hour or two. You can store the broth in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Many CSAs and farmer’s market will put produce in those thin plastic produce bags. Try to reuse those for future veggies that you receive. We also try to reuse the gallon-sized ziplock bags a few times that we store the veggies in.
Buying local is actually good for the environment: One of the most important ways buying locally helps the environment is by reducing your food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate. By cutting down on these miles, you are reducing the environmental impact of your food. Local food doesn’t create large carbon footprints through overseas plane travel or long truck trips. This cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution. There isn’t a need for shipping facilities, packing facilities or refrigeration. [source]
Plus, most farms that offer CSAs are organic. This means that they do not use harmful chemicals (harmful to you and harmful to the soil and water it touches). It is so interesting to hear of all of the different ways that farmers protect their crops from pests in a more natural way. Here are some examples.
I would LOVE to hear some recipes that you use with your fresh veggies in the summertime– Comment below!