December 14, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
(Blogger’s note: For one week, Green BEAN Delivery is offering Ashlee Eats readers 50 percent off the price of a produce bin for new and reactivating customers. Just type in ACLapc in the promo code area. The deal doesn’t include grocery add-ins.)
I keep my life goals realistic. So realistic, in fact, that I don’t even call them “goals.”
I have “Middle-Class Dreams.”
My top Middle-Class Dream? To be the weekly recipient of a CSA bin.
Community Supported Agriculture, aka CSA, is a way to buy local, seasonal and/or organic food directly from your friendly neighborhood farmer. Here are the basics of the idea, courtesy of localharvest.org:
A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
Sounds nice, right? But the price point of the CSAs I have come in contact with have kept me from signing up. So I was thrilled when Green BEAN Delivery contacted me to review their program because of my appreciation of CSA and similar programs and my love of free stuff.
Green BEAN (not a CSA, buy similar) serves Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio participants with bins of (mostly) organic produce, much of which is from local farms, and natural food. It’s easy to get started with the program. You pick which size bin you would like to receive (ranging from a $35 small bin to a $49 large bin) and the frequency you would like to receive your bin. You can also select certain natural food brands to add to your bin.
For my review, I signed up for the small produce bin that the Green BEAN website said is “perfect for 2-3 people.” The picture at the top of the page is everything that came in the bin, and here’s the list:
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 1 bunch of carrots
- 1 red onion
- 24 oz. klamath pearl potatoes
- 1 lb. green beans (the only non-organic item)
- 4 bosc pears
- 4 gala apples
- 3 navel oranges
- 3 tangerines
- 1 head of bibb lettuce
The produce comes in an insulated bin complete with a cold pack, so everything arrived looking fresh out of the farmer’s market. Just opening the lid was like walking down the first aisle of the supermarket.
As soon as I washed and stored all the food, I peeled right into one of the deep-orange tangerines. It was juicy and tangy, a nice preview for the rest of the produce I would eat.
I spent the next week experimenting with all fresh food that packed the shelves of my fridge. Much like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get in the CSA bin each week, so a little research and flexibility are key.
After a call to my mom, I threw the green beans in a slow cooker with some bacon, onion, salt and pepper for a delicious side dish:
I also referred to my favorite cookbook and a recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens to create this dish of herb-roasted root vegetables that used the potatoes, carrots, red onion and a few sweet potatoes already in my house:
My husband and I ate the rest of the items in the bin straight out of the refrigerator in salads or just by themselves. Each piece of fruit or hunk of vegetable tasted better than the previous. Everything was fresh and fragrant, crisp and cool. Not a brown spot in the bunch.
The small bin is a great size for an adult couple and could last two weeks if you supplement your produce with other groceries. I also ate more fruits and vegetables during my time with the bin because I couldn’t escape all of the produce in my face.
The small $35 bin received on a bi-weekly basis is an expense I’m willing to work into my family’s grocery budget in exchange for healthier, fresher, more seasonal eating. There is enough variety and surprise in your selection to keep things interesting. I could easily seeing myself getting the majority of my produce from Green BEAN and The Root Cellar, another excellent resource for local, seasonal food.
The only thing left of my Green BEAN bin is the broccoli, and I don’t want my glimpse at achieving a Middle-Class Dream fade to black.