The CSA Project, Part 1: What’s In the Box

I hate wasting food. Blame my Presbyterian missionary lineage, in particular my grandfather, who spent many of his formative years living in India and Thailand, where sweetened condensed milk was a delicacy and underwear was purchased once every five years. In bulk.

The happiest I ever saw him outside of the usual weddings, graduations and baby births was the one time the family gave him a giant box stuffed with generic brand goods from the supermarket for his birthday. It was back when generic brands had monochromatic packaging and just had words like COLA, SHAMPOO and HAM printed on the labels. I remember there was lots of RAMEN in the box and that he was smiling from ear to ear.

So I often feel like I’m channeling Norm when I pack up the three bites of mashed potato left in the bottom of the serving bowl, or take home the wilty bunch of kale from work rather than tossing them out. I can mix the potatoes into a soup, I can perk up the kale in a little cold water. My refrigerator is usually filled with tiny containers that Rob doesn’t bother to explore. I’m the guide: “The leftover rice? Go past the unmarked roasted sweet potato wrapped in foil and to the left, under the Parmesan rind.”

That’s why when I buy a box of vegetables from my favorite CSA — South Central Farmers, they’re great — I try to plan carefully to make sure we eat them all before they go bad. I usually come close to succeeding, and that feels good — even better than a box full of RAMEN.

So how do we eat all these vegetables? I thought it might be interesting to write out a list of what I got in this week’s box and then check back in next week, to see how it all got used. If anything, it will be motivation for me to be on top of it, what with you looking over my shoulder and all.

In this week’s box:
• 1 (large!) bunch celery
• 1 bunch turnips
• 1 bunch arugula
• 1 head romaine lettuce
• 1 head red lettuce
• 4 oranges
• 2 heads broccoli
• 2 red onions
• 1 bunch cilantro
• 1 bunch purple amaranth (?) red mustard
• 1 large cabbage

There is a lot of lettuce in my refrigerator. I foresee more than a few salads this week.


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