It started in the 1960s in Switzerland and Japan – CSA’s or Community Supported Agriculture – emerged as a way for community members who wanted fresh, wholesome, readily available food to connect with farmers who needed a reliable, local market for their crops, reducing the cost of transportation as well as marketing.
The simplicity and integrity of the CSA concept is what makes it so compelling, especially for people who want to know the source of their food and the people responsible for growing it. The CSA’s shareholders’ upfront investment supports the operation of the farm and in return they receive a share of the farm’s harvest throughout the growing season.
Having a CSA share can be an adventure in eating as well as an education in food production and seasonality. You never know what to expect in your share from week to week; using everything that comes in that week makes for some very creative cooking.
The popularity of CSA’s in this country is growing at an unprecedented rate. What was once a small group of committed locavores is spreading into the mainstream. There are CSAs for produce, but there are also CSA for flowers, beef, pork, chicken and eggs.
For those unwilling or unable to commit to a CSA share there are plentiful alternatives to connect with the local farming community at both farm stands and farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are proliferating in cities and towns throughout the country. And farm stands have traditionally been a boon for farm family sellers and motivated, food-loving buyers. They too help sustain the viability of farms both large and small.
We’ve chosen a few of our favorite recipes that use farm fresh ingredients for their delicious flavor.
Kohlrabi is an odd looking orb that I didn’t know what to do with when I first found it in my CSA share. My first try was simply slicing it into thin discs, topping it with a bit of cheddar cheese and putting it under the broiler until the cheese was golden and bubbly. It was a yummy introduction. Liz at The Lemon Bowl adds slices of this member of the cabbage family to add crunch to her Grilled Cheese with Apples, Dijon & Kohlrabi – and, wow – is it good!
These days, kale seems ubiquitous. There are so many great kale recipes, it’s hard to choose just one. I like to start my day with a protein and nutrition packed smoothie. This lovely green concoction, called a Green Mountain Smoothie, is the perfect way to start a healthy day!
Another farm stand staple is the humble zucchini. It seems to dominate any place it grows. It’s so popular and ever present that we’ll be posting a zucchini Recipe Roundup in the coming weeks. Here’s just one brilliant, and totally yummy recipe – Grilled Cheddar Zucchini Boats with Balsamic Leeks – that combines the rich flavors of balsamic-glazed leeks and basil with Cabot cheddar.
Chef Becca Heflin of It’s Yummi has created this cool, refreshing Chilled Cucumber Soup – just perfect for the dog days of summer. It gets its creamy tang with the addition of Greek yogurt. All we can say is…yes, please!
If you have lots of fresh veggies, this beautiful Vegetable Tart with Cheddar Cornmeal Crust may be just what you’ve been looking for. Our recipe calls for tomatoes, spring onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers, but you can let your imagination – and CSA share – dictate what goes into this tasty tart. And just wait until you taste the cheesy crust. It’s so, so good.
Our last recipe takes advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh peas. This Brown Rice Risotto with Peas and Cheddar will delight your family or summer guests with its color, flavor, and simplicity. It works as a side dish, but is substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian entrée.
For other recipe ideas visit cabotcheese.coop
Candace Karu is Cabot’s Lifestyle Commentator and Favorite Foodie. (Yup, that’s her real title!) When she’s not on the road representing Cabot’s farm family owners, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.