An assortment of vegetables from my CSA box: bundle of orange carrots, a bunch of celery and a handful of mushrooms

How to Eat Organic on the Cheap with CSA

Food Philosophy, Personal

I’ve been M.I.A. for a little bit. Oops, sorry about that.

I started a new job about a month ago, and the extra responsibility has hit me like a ton of bricks. Work starts at an utterly ungodly hour which, on the bright side, has helped to regulate my sleep cycle, but when I get home, I am definitely not in the mood to do anything remotely productive. Mostly I spend my afternoons and evenings curled up with a book or hitting a yoga class, often while drinking way too many matcha lattes. But now that I’ve returned, I have something exciting I want to share with you lovely folks.

Introducing My CSA

Today is Wednesday, one of my favourite days of the week because it means that a CSA box arrives on my front porch somewhere between the hours of noon and 9pm. What is a CSA, you ask?

CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”.

At the beginning of the growing season, you pay the farm a set fee and in return, you receive a share of the farm’s produce every week in the form of a CSA box. However, you also share the risks the farm faces, whether that is weather or pests – things out of the farmer’s control.

If you have never experienced the joys of the CSA, now is a great time of year to start. Each growing season brings its own unique produce. Over the winter, our CSA boxes tended to contain plenty of root vegetables and greenhouse lettuces and sprouts. I am currently drooling over the prospect of the warm-weather produce to come: juicy sun sugar tomatoes, plump berries, and an assortment of unrecognizable melons that prove to be scrumptious.

Advantages of Joining a CSA

Each box is a welcome surprise, and one that forces me to get creative in the kitchen. I often receive produce I would never have thought to purchase at the grocery store – garlic scapes, anyone? Tomatillos? Watermelon radishes?

There are costs to shopping at the grocery store.

Not only is shopping organic at the grocery store super expensive, but you are also losing out on the awesome nutritional potential of fresh and local produce.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always found that the signs over the produce bins at my local grocery store always read “Product of U.S.A.” or “Product of Israel” or some other far off place, meaning that your food has been transported a pretty long way to get to where you are. This can take a while, and in order to ensure this produce is not spoiled by the time it reaches the grocery store, it is often picked from the plant before it is anywhere close to ripe let alone brimming with nutritious goodness. The longer your produce remains growing and the closer it is to ripe when it’s picked, the more time it has had to suck all those awesome vitamins and minerals from the soil and the better it will be for your sweet bod.

Eating local is better for the environment and for your community.

Since locally grown produce does not have to travel very far to reach you, less energy is used up on transport. You might also notice that local food requires less packaging, which means that there is less to throw in the garbage afterwards. By supporting your local farms, you ensure that the future generations of your community have access to an abundance of nutritious food.

More vegetables from my CSA box: a beautiful head of green lettuce, a bunch of celery, and some carrot greens

Click here to find an Ontario CSA close to you (This link will be helpful to Ontario residents, but if you live outside of Ontario, I’m sure a quick Google search of local CSAs will be equally beneficial).

If you want to learn more about the benefits of eating local my favourite books on these subjects are In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I have also started putting together a library of my favourite nutrition and food resources for you! I’ll keep updating it as I come up with more. But for now, that’s my piece. I’ll see you next time!

November 2013: A Few of My Favourite Things

Monthly Favourites

Hi everyone! I’m hoping to start putting together a monthly list of my favourite products, books, documentaries, foods, and anything else that catches my fancy. I know, its practically halfway through December, but here are some things that I really enjoyed over the last month!

1) Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Liquid Soap: Dr. Bronner’s has been my go to body wash for a while now, because it has so many awesome qualities. Not only is it fair trade and against animal testing, its got a pretty stellar ingredient list (Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol). It can also be used for just about any cleaning job you can think of including shampooing your hair, as a laundry detergent, or for scrubbing all that porcelain in you bathroom. I even used the almond scented kind to brush my teeth with once, in a desperate situation, though I recommend not doing this because, as amazing as its ingredients are, it still tasted like licking a bar of soap.

I’ve been loving my before-bedtime showers lately, because the lavender scent is so soothing. Lavender is known for its calming, sedative effect which may be beneficial for anxiety and depression, headaches, and insomnia. When applied topically, it is also antiseptic which makes it great for speeding up the healing time of scrapes and cuts, in decreasing the appearance of scars, and helping to treat skin problems (eg. dry and itchy skin, eczema, acne, burns, etc).

bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in lavender scent

2) Blackfish: My boyfriend and I sat down to watch this documentary sometime last week, and loved it. Its about the psychological damage done to whales held in captivity, the effects of that damage, and how frustrating, cruel, and horrifying their lives are. It was heartbreaking, but definitely a must-watch. You can find the trailer HERE

3) Algonquin Tea Company – Sacred Blend (Vision Community Clarity): The list of ingredients in this tea is short and sweet – white pine, sweet grass, and sage. In a world where most tea blends contain fillers, GMOs, pesticides, and other nasty ingredients, Algonquin Tea Company is an amazing find. All of their ingredients are “handpicked, organic, and ethically wildcrafted in the Canadian wilderness”. How flipping cool is that? This specific blend is meant to be used for meditation, but I’ve mostly been enjoying it before bedtime since its naturally caffeine-free and promotes nice, tranquil feelings.

box of Sacred Blend tea for vision, community, and clarity from The Algonquin Tea Company

4) Giddy Yoyo Raw Chocolate: Good quality cacao is a serious superfood, my friends. Some of its super powers include:

  • improving cardiovascular and digestive health
  • lowering blood pressure
  • protecting the body from free radical damage
  • improving mental and physical well-being

Giddy Yoyo cacao is impeccably sourced, and their chocolate is a heavenly thing to behold. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the creators of Giddy Yoyo on a couple of different occasions, and the love and care that goes into creating their product is pretty darn inspiring. If you ever have the chance to hear them speak, you should go for it. They always seem to have tons of free chocolate for their audience to sample. I managed to score one of their chocolate bars in orange flavour (though I think I’ve tried all of them by now) at one of their recent talks and it was SO good, I forgot to take a picture for you. But here is the link to their website in case you wanted to track down a local distributor. 

5) Green Eggs and Yams: Including a good quality source of protein in your breakfast is essential for balancing blood sugar, curbing those cravings that tend to come up later in the day, and keeping you full and energized until lunch time. This recipe also makes a great winter breakfast because it helps you get your veggies in early in the day without having to resort to chillier options (Ahem, green smoothie, I am looking at you. Not to say that I don’t love a green smoothie, of course). You’ll find the recipe down below. 

green scrambled eggs on a plate with discs of roasted sweet potato

Green Eggs and Yams
Print
Ingredients
  1. 4 organic, free-run eggs
  2. 1 cup of your favourite greens (eg. spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  3. 1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1/4 cup of organic goat cheese
  5. sea salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Throw the first 5 ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Preheat a pan over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil.
  3. Once coconut oil is melted, pour in the egg and vegetable mixture.
  4. As the eggs begin to solidify in the pan, stir until they've reached your favourite scrambled egg consistency.
  5. Serve with a side of roasted sweet potato, or any other favourite veggie!
Annemarie Dixon http://annemariedixon.com/