Community Supported Awesome

As much as I enjoy grocery shopping, said task properly executed is an endeavour that must be undertaken with great patience. It is a task that cannot be accomplished in an hour by any craft that we here possess.

One does not simply walk into the supermarket

It’s black gates are guarded by more than just the Salvation Army bell ringer.

There is evil there that does not sleep. In fact, I’m fairly sure it’s evil causes the glut of mushy produce and low-quality animal slices that adorn its shelves.

In my constant research of new places and ways of which to fill my gaping maw, I stumbled quite luckily upon a new way of procuring foodstuffs. The CSA: community supported agriculture.

The concept is simple: an industrious smattering of people who are passionate about supporting local farms and businesses sell “shares” of the goods able to be procured from the farms which would ordinarily be difficult or impossible for an individual to buy on one’s own. They pack it into bags, and send it out to a grateful public. Again, stressing all local.

Here in Cleveland, one of the more well established CSAs is Fresh Fork Market, from where I chose to this year partake. There’s a whole bunch around, but this one seemed well established, had a healthy following, and delivered close to home (and eventually to my workplace!).

When week one arrived, I received a bag containing this:

Fresh Fork Week 1

It’s an extravaganza!

Because I’m a glutton, and thoroughly enjoy preparing food nearly every day, I chose the Large Omnivore bag. Which provided me with everything I wanted and more.

I mean, seriously. Look at this stuff.

In particular, the strawberries nearly made me soil myself with joy (yes, Ohio strawberries are absolutely that good), and the chicken, oh, the chicken. It had color. Flavor. Texture. Unfortunately no giblets…but oh, the crispy skin…

The real joy here is that, I’m getting all this amazing stuff delivered to me, for 41 bucks a week. First off, that’s 10 (or more) bucks less than I spend per week in any given supermarket. For food that is of spectacular quality and freshness. With the added bonus of, if I ever want to know more about where my food came from, I just ask the guy on the delivery truck.

Friends, it is that good.

And then it got better.

Today was week number two.

Week 2

My countertop runneth over!

I mean seriously, they have a story behind the black beans! Berkshire pork chorizo! …Zucc…actually the zucchini can go fornicate itself with an iron pole, but other than that… That. Delivered every week. For less money than shopping in the supermarket.

Truth be told, these same prices can be had at proper farmers markets in probably every city around the country. But if you can get it delivered, plus want to challenge yourself with oddities such as kohlrabi, there’s nothing that’s going to be more fun in the kitchen. You’ll be eating what’s in season and what’s good right now.

Find a CSA near you, or make friends with your local farmers. You get quality foods and support the local economy. It pays off in every possible way.

10 comments to Community Supported Awesome

  • LOTR references make me happy. Yay! Your dislike of zucchini makes me sad. Sigh.

    Is this your first CSA season? It’s year…4 (can that be right?) for me. #FreshForkLove

    • My dad used to grow zucchini (amongst 1001 Arabian Nights other fantastic things) in the garden out back (Mentor pride!) when I was but a wee foodie (food-curious maybe?). It was the only thing that ever was prolific in our back yard. The amount of frozen zucchini creole we’d eat over the winter gave me a complete distaste for the little green bastard. Still attempting to get over it.

      Indeed, I be a virgin to the CSA, but am absolutely loving it. There’s something great and liberating about being given something you didn’t want, being forced to make it, and finding out how delicious it really is.

  • princesszyrtec

    I have always known of this as a food co-op, though the only one I knew of in the Toledo area was Phoenix, and they have stuttered along, rather feebly. I appreciate you posting about this because now I have a new nomenclature with which to G to the Oogle and hopefully I will find that Toledo does not have to remain a food desert. Just curious though, what happens in the winter?

    • Fresh Fork acutally has one that runs during the winter as well, just less greenery and more pantry/meatery/dairy staples. I’ll let the others who have done the winter shares chime in here though as they will be more enlightened than a noob such as I.

      Would be shocked if there’s none around Toledo — you’re closer to a lot of the farms than I am here on the (north)east coast.

      We used to have a Food Coop here also (I always eschew the hyphen for there’s something delightful about the idea of a “food coop”). But as mentioned, I just love getting that surprise ingredient that makes me wonder what the everloving hell I’m going to do with.

      If I walked into a store, I’d never even think to pick up something bizarre.

  • Amon-Rukh

    Well, goaded on by the awesome sausages and yogurt that your friendly CSA provided back in June, I’ve gone and signed us up to be on the waiting list for one here in St.L. Hopefully the wait won’t be too long and the food will be just as inspiring!

    • Spectacular! I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Since then, they’ve graced me with grass-fed and heirloom breed animal slices, as well as some really weird stuff like spelt berries, which are surprisingly better and less berry-like than they sound. The downside is you end up cooking so much you hardly frequent restaurants in fear the mounds of produce will go afoul.

      • Amon-Rukh

        Well, we hardly frequent restaurants as is, so that’s not much of a drawback. 😛

        The only drawback so far is that we don’t know how long we’ll be on the waiting list for. I met someone last weekend who is a member of the CSA that we signed up for and the resulting conversation left me hungry and sad that I wasn’t getting food right now….

  • […] admit that I did get this bird from Jonas Raber Quality Poultry (through my Fresh Fork Market CSA), and was well raised […]

  • […] by Falquan’s enthusiasm over the CSA he had joined (and doubly inspired after he brought some delicious sausages over for dinner last summer), the […]

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