I’m so excited! And I just can’t hide it.Pointer Sisters
I got my first C.S.A. box from Empower Farms last week. What is a C.S.A., you might ask? It is Community Supported Agriculture that lets you receive boxes of fresh, high quality produce and eggs throughout the growing season of your area. In South Florida the season goes from mid-November to mid-May.
Sign-up for C.S.A.’s are in the Fall, but discounts are given by some if you sign up in the Summer. Unfortunately, I waited too late to get a regular delivery from Empower Farms, so I signed up for a Stand-By order. This gets you three boxes of produce when regular customers are out of town, which are delivered to your doorstep. If I don’t get all three boxes (due to not enough people out of town), I get a refund at the end of the season.
There are many C.S.A.’s available from different farms. I chose Empower Farms because they raise certified organic and eco-friendly produce at a farm which employs people with disabilities. It started in 2019 to offer a range of opportunities for people with disabilities to grow food, make money, be outside, get exercise and meet other people. They also offer Field Trips for disabled people to their farm; it seems like a win-win concept to me.
The prices for a C.S.A. box vary, according to how often you get them and if you pick them up yourself, or have the box delivered to your door. The pick-up range is throughout the Miami area, from Palmetto Bay to Coral Gables and beyond. If you get a box each week (24 boxes), the cost is $30 each. The less often you get the boxes, the more expensive it is. Home delivery is $12 per delivery.
The types of fruit and vegetables you get in your box depends on what is fresh at the time. Fruits you might get are bananas, papayas or peaches. Greens like Swiss Chard, Chinese Cabbage and Okinowa Kale are possiblities, as well as veggies like carrots, broccoli and beets. Herbs, such as basil, parsley or lemon grass might also appear in your box.
When my box was delivered (they texted me first to make sure I would be home) it felt like Christmas morning. There was a wonderful, mystery box of food delivered to my doorstep. They harvest most of the produce the same day they deliver it, so they texted me to make sure #1 I wanted it and #2 that someone was home to refrigerate the perishable items.
My first delivery contained Bok Choy, Tomatillos, Beet Greens, Field Mustard, Papaya, Tomatoes, Radishes and Carrots. The vegetables and fruit came in a carboard box and the produce was wrapped in compostable bags, which I appreciated. I really like getting a C.S.A. basket because it pushes me to try different foods, supports local farmers and supplies healthy food to use in my meals.
I immediately thought of Tomatillo Salsa for the paper-husked green beauties. Like a contestant on Chopped, I cut open the tomatillo and tasted it. It had a slightly sour, vegetal flavor to it and the salsa I made with it (after roasting the tomatillos) was delicious. I served it with Tortilla Chips but it would also be good on Roast Chicken, fish or on tacos, enchiladas or burritos.
The lovely tomatoes, I sliced into rounds and sprinkled with feta cheese (a good alternative if you don’t have mozzarella on hand) and balsamic vinegar. Pro tip: Never refrigerate tomatoes! It kills the flavor. The greens I sauteed with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes and the green beans I boiled with onion and salt pork. The radishes will be used in a salad.
Normally, when I shop at Publix, I reach for the same tired items in the Produce section. Red Bell Pepper- check. Celery- check. Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts- check, check. Getting a C.S.A. basket forces me to try new things and reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and flying fruit and vegetables from around the world. Plus, most of the produce from C.S.A.’s is picked the day it’s delivered. You can’t get much fresher than that!
I also find I’m treating these foods with more reverence, because I have a connection to the farm from which it came and the people who farmed and delivered it. I want to do right by these beautiful fruits and vegetables. There are many farms in South Florida that offer C.S.A.’s.; Empower Farm is just one of about 16. They also accept SNAP, so lower income family can have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Next Fall, I want to get my C.S.A. order in early. I will list the various farms that offer them. The Empower website- empowerfarms.com– made signing up for it a breeze. And now, when I see tomatillos at Publix, I won’t be afraid to buy some to make a salsa. It’s a recipe I’ll keep in steady rotation.
Tomatillo Salsa VerdeCourse: AppetizersCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
1 1/2 pound tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 jalapeno or serrano peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped
salt to taste
- Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.
- Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add a few garlic cloves in their skin.
- Place under a broiler for 5- 7 minutes to lightly blacken the skins of the tomatillos.
- Remove skin from roasted garlic. Place the cooked tomatillos, lime juice, onions, garlic, cilantro, chili peppers in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and minced.
- Serve with tortilla chips or grilled meat or seafood.
- White onions are typically used in Mexican Cuisine, but you can substitute other colors.
Up Next: Food Trends for 2022