Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cranky Yankee

I have been miserable.  I am that crusty 'ol New Englander come late March.  Meh.  I am happy to commiserate with the countless others who are sick of looking at the multiple feet high snow drifts.  Mounds of snow that is now colored in various shades of road dirt, and pitted with the spots that have attempted to melt in the slightly warmer days, but refreeze with the still cold nights.

I am trying my hardest to focus on the bright things to come - you know, the spring daffodils, the bunnies, the longer and lighter days, and soon, thereafter, comes the food of the land.

Instead of panicking over what bathing suit (translation:  stuffed sausage wrapping) I will encase this shockingly neon white skin in, with its lizard like texture and less frequently shaved hairs - I am focusing on the nutrients to come.

Not only will we start to replenish our stores of Vitamin D by spending time outside at countless soccer games and by doing spring yard work, but the fruits of the season will start to begin their cycle of life.  Many of the local greenhouses are starting to share their tidbits; sweet words like "celery seeds planted today!"

We have barely survived this winter by making the twenty minute ride down Route 2 to Idylewilde Farms in Acton.  Inasmuch as some of the prices were much higher than my local box stores, the ambiance in walking up and down the small aisles that are filled to the brim with the colors of the rainbow is worth a small fraction of my paycheck.  Vibrant red peppers.  Glorious orange satsuma mandarins.  Blindingly yellow bananas.  Fifty shades of green in the leafy section.  Wonderous blue potatoes.  Exotic purple splattered eggplants.  Shall I go on?

I will not mention the cheese aisle again.  You all know it takes every ounce of willpower to refrain from rolling around amongst the goudas, the blues, the goaty and the asiagos.  I take my little micro sample that they offer and I move on down the road.

In any event, one bright spot in the Ides of March is that our local farms are busy little bees.  The farmers are pollinating, germinating and preparing for what they hope will be an abundant growing season.

I love farmers.  Think about it for a second:  they are almost of a dying breed.  In a day where technology rules the roost in nearly every capacity, including our food resources - it's nice to see a true modern day farmer.  Farmers like to get dirty.  (No snickers here........yes, they play in the mud!)  Let's face it, farmers know how to live off the land.  They plow, they rototiller, and they plant seeds.  All in the name of using Mother Earth to provide us with the nutrients we need.

I read something so profoundly simple a few years back, that it still resonates with my inner core to this day.  We should eat with the seasons.  It is what our ancestors did to survive and prosper long before the food mills came on the scene.

June brings you lots of leafy greens - the lettuces, the kales, the asparagus, the start of the squashes and strawberries.  Delicious strawberries!  July brings you more into the squashes, the eggplants are coming around, as is the start of so much more - like the beloved blueberry.  If you are lucky, late July starts to bring you the infamous butter and sugar corn.  By August, everything is in full swing and anyone can tell you, the taste of a warm summer tomato right off the vine - there's nothing quite like it.  By September and October, you have turned back into the harvest mode with winter squashes and aromatic apples peeking their comforting faces into your life.  The root vegetables have taken up their residence to hold hardy for the long and cold winter months where a plethora of nothing grows.  During this plethora of nothing, we rely upon fruit and vegetables that have made the hundreds of miles, wait, maybe thousands of miles trek to make its way into our stores for our consumption.  Yuk.

As I come full circle, the point of today's journey is to remind you to take up some of your time whilst waiting for spring to finally show up and sign up for a CSA.  CSA is Community Supported Agriculture.  In layman's terms, you buy a "share" (either full or half) of a farmer's crop for the upcoming year.  By doling out the money in advance, you help the guy in dirty overalls to fund the planting process and in return, you get a weekly box full of the farm's goodies.  For most local CSAs, this runs from mid-June to mid-October, an average of 16 weeks.  The math is simple and will save you money - a $500 full share will cost you roughly $32/week for a family of 5.  Many of these local farmers offer you more incentives by giving you a coupon for additional goods each week, or perhaps a discount on additional purchases made on pick-up day.

Win-win.  Right?  Support your local farmers and their respective families.  Support your family by offering them healthy goodness right from your back yard.  I cannot wait until my very first pick up.  Part of the fun is unpacking the box and finding what great mysteries are contained inside!

Are you in?

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