"Life is like a box of chocolates. You
never know what you're gonna get."
Forrest Gump coined it nearly 15 years ago. This decade's version is greener, arguably better and definitely not as fattening.
Sign on for a CSA and life's adventure begins with the first box. You
never know exactly what you're going to get; but like a box of
chocolates, it's not too shabby.
Last summer, on June 11, I picked up my first delivery from the back of
a truck at the Durango drop-off point. It felt like the first day of
school. People lined up, nodding to each other with the uncertainty
that says, "Weren't you here this time last year?"
Not me. I'm the new kid in class.
Like a middle-schooler heaving a backpack loaded with school books, I
tossed the produce box into the back seat of the Toyota. I poked around
inside the box once I got home. That's when I found recipes and
instructions on how to rinse spinach and chard.
When I read the words "Draw a basin of cold water ..." I knew the CSA
was for me. Ripping open a cellophane bag of triple-washed anything has
always made me squirm when I did the math, not to mention when I tasted
I can't remember everything in that first box of organic produce, but I
know not one piece of the broccoli, spinach, chard or red onion was
wasted. Plus, I made a big batch of Italian greens with whatever I
couldn't identify: I pretended it was escarole, drizzled some olive oil
and shaved parmesan on it, and then I basked in the garlic. Life was
As time went on, so came the snow peas and tomatoes, green beans and
cucumbers. My home garden was rather spotty, but I knew I could count
on my Wednesday treat.
One time I got a cabbage the size of a watermelon. I peeled off the
outer leaves, stuffed them as my Ukrainian grandmother would have,shredded a quarter of it for coleslaw, stir-fried another quarter and
used the remainder in a pot of vegetable soup. You can't make vegetable
beef soup without cabbage.
I tried many of the recipes, but more often I went to Epicurious.com
and typed in the vegetable to see what others had to say. I landed a
few new recipes, but for the most part, we enjoyed produce raw, in
salads or lightly sautéed.
I usually ate the berries on the way home. From the peaches I made and
froze a peach pie that I popped in the oven a month ago, when my book
club gathered at my house in March.
The herbs were among my favorites. Once the Wednesday afternoon crowd
got comfortable, there always was someone shouting "I'll trade my
cilantro for your beets" or vice versa.
Not everything was a winner. The corn didn't stack up to what we find
in Olathe, but that's part of the game: You share in the downside just
as you enjoy the upside.
I found there were Wednesdays when I was out of town, yet failed to ask a friend to enjoy that week's load of produce.
Just like success in school, the first rule is you have to show up. And really be there.