The Weekly Box That Changes Lives

I’m going through withdrawal… a fresh food withdrawal. Our last CSA delivery of the season from Dripping Springs Garden was last week.

From late May until mid-November, this weekly box of fresh food provides nutrition for my body and medicine for my soul. When I’m running from phone calls to meetings, and answering endless emails, I get lazy about food. I can easily fall into the habit of grabbing a pre-cooked burrito or making a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. But when I’ve just picked up my box of food from Dripping Springs, I am enticed into chopping vegetables and cooking a real meal, slowing me down at least once a day.

My weekly CSA box has also expanded my palate. Instead of eating my six or seven favorite vegetables over and over again, now I am forced to experience a wide variety of flavors. Beets and basil, shitakes and strawberries, okra and eggplant have entered my kitchen. This fall, I was even wowed by the taste of bok choy! I swear it was the most vibrant, juicy green I’d ever eaten.   

(If you think I am the only one who gets excited by a box of raw food fresh from a farm, search “CSA box” at YouTube or one of the other on-line video services. There are hundreds of people happily showing the world what came in their weekly CSA delivery!)

But the CSA box is about more than good food. Belonging to a CSA also gives me a tangible connection to the livelihood of a local farmer. I am contributing directly to the income and the wellbeing of Mark and Michael at Dripping Springs. Besides paying them for a full share at the beginning of the year, I also communicate with them often during the season, exchanging my stories of cooking and eating with their stories of production. As a former farmer myself, that’s important to me.   

CSAs are such an integral part of our movement that at least 15 presenters at the 2012 Southern SAWG conference either run a CSA or are involved in one.

Katie Pitre will lead a conference session on CSAs for beginners and also facilitate a CSA information exchange. Having run a CSA with her husband at Tecolote Farm for the past 18 years, Katie has a wealth of experience to share about making this unique relationship work better for both farmers and customers.

Even though I’m now on the eating side of a CSA, I still look forward to hearing farmers like Katie discuss the joys and challenges of growing food for multiple families. Unfortunately this will probably increase my craving for next season. But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.