Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. Previously, she fended off a stampeding herd of zucchini.
The vegetables I've been writing about this season - the invasive purslane weed, inscrutable kohlrabi and endless bushes of leafy greens - all came from Added Value, an urban farm located on the edge of Brooklyn's Red Hook waterfront neighborhood.
By Monday night, the farm was buried under almost three feet of water. Sandy's storm surge sent a flood of river water, mud and industrial sludge cascading through Red Hook, drowning hundreds of homes and local businesses. The farm lost its fall crops, some of its physical structures, and an estimated $10,000 to $40,000 in equipment.
Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. Previously, she fell in love with the weirdness of kohlrabi.
I have a zucchini the size of a baseball bat lurking on my fridge’s bottom shelf. It has a pack of cousins jammed into the veggie drawer, and my freezer is stuffed with roughly seventeen zillion pounds of squash creations.
It’s the problem every CSA subscriber or veggie gardener faces all summer long: The zucchini explosion.
These things are the rabbits of the plant world. During a long, dry July stretch when practically nothing else was coming up at my CSA’s farm, the zucchini merrily ran rampant. We got massive hauls of it each week; the leftover squash took to leaping off the vines and accosting those who wandered past. I’ve known home gardeners who become like drug pushers: “Oh, you have to take some of my zucchini home with you! No really, take some damn zucchini.”
Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. Previously, she discovered the weedy joys of purslane.
If you’ve got kohlrabi in your fridge, you’re probably in a CSA. I’ve never met a single person who has procured a kohlrabi in the wild*.
I’d certainly never run across one until my CSA started sticking them in its shares. With most new produce, I can at least take a guess at its likely texture and taste. With kohlrabi, I had absolutely no clue. Its appearance has famously been described by nutritionist Jonny Bowden as “a cross between an octopus and a space capsule."
Lacking any idea where to start, I hit the Internets. First step: Figuring out what to make. Kohlrabi turns out to be obscure but incredibly versatile - you can use it in pretty much anything that works well with root vegetables, but it will also stretch in unusual directions.
Tracie McMillan adapted this essay in part from her reporting for The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. She is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and a 2013 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan . You can follow her @TMMcMillan.
A few months ago, a small farmer in the Northeast approached me at a conference, intense and red-faced. How could I say that Americans shouldn’t pay more for their food?
She sold lettuce and beets to well-heeled women, their ears dangling gold and fingers sporting diamonds. Yet many of them balked at the prospect of paying an extra dollar per pound. To grow her food without extensive chemicals, and to sell her wares at market, she needed to fetch a higher price. Surely, couldn't these women could pay more?
Well, yes, I conceded, those women could probably afford to pay more. That doesn’t mean we have to. Because it’s not the farmers who get most of the money we spend on food. It’s everyone who's standing past the farm gate.
“I’m not going to eat the purslane,” my friend Amy announced as we collected our CSA shares. “I grew up weeding that ^%$#.”
My CSA often coughs up veggies and greens you don’t usually see in the supermarket, but until Amy foisted her purslane share on me, I hadn’t realized the haul would include actual weeds.
Amy, who comes from rural Colorado, says she used to spend hours each week as a kid hunting down purslane shoots and fighting their attempts to take over her family’s vegetable patch. The USDA classifies it as “invasive and noxious.” Google its official name, “portulaca oleracea,” and you’ll get a long list of advice on killing it; Google “purslane” and you get tips for cooking it.
Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. This is the first installment
It’s CSA season. That means that like thousands of other community supported agriculture subscribers, I’m locked in a five-month death battle with my fridge’s veggie drawer.
It’s week three of my CSA, and right now, the fridge is winning. I’ve got the inevitable kohlrabi lurking in the crisper, plotting a coup with the half-dozen turnips I’ve had lingering in there since April. The leafy greens are forming factions. I’ve been adding “spring salad mix” to every meal I possibly can, since it turns to sludge after a week, but that means neglecting the kale, arugula and mizuna. I’m pretty sure they’re spawning. Every time I open the drawer, the mizuna supply has tripled.
It’s not all grim, of course. I actually love CSA season and look forward to our first mid-June delivery the way six-year-old me anticipated Christmas morning: Finally, after months and months of waiting, the goodies arrive!
Live from the Aspen Food & Wine Festival - chef and activist founder Michel Nischan speaks about how his own family's health crisis spurred him to take action toward a healthier food system and work toward getting affordable, fresh food to the people who need it most.
Learn more about Nischan's work with Wholesome Wave and Mariners Match
iReporter Chris Morrow stumbled upon a Sustainable Feast for Kids on her way to the Little Italy Mercado in San Diego.
She says, "Set in the heart of Little Italy’s Mercato, the Sustainable Feast - a free event open to the public - was a one-of-a-kind happening, where local farms and chefs were the stars. Farmers paired with some of San Diego's top chefs and Edible San Diego to create a variety of delicious dishes, prepared up close and personal. Sustainable Feast benefits the Outdoor Education Foundation’s scholarship fund."
Susan Candiotti is a New York-based CNN national correspondent.
Pay a farmer to have fresh vegetables and fruit boxed up and delivered to your house or neighborhood drop off point once a week? It sounds enticing. Truth be told, I’d heard of them, but didn’t realize the concept called Community Supported Agriculture has been around for about 20 years. I suppose I’m so used to going to a grocery store or occasionally, a farmers market, that I never investigated any other option. CSA devotees swear by the personalized farmer to home service and it’s growing in popularity. The LocalHarvest directory alone lists more than 2500 CSAs.
The price varies, but buying a share of the farmer’s crops runs about $500 for the growing season.
(I haven’t figured out how much I pay my local grocer.)
In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on the world's dietary tribes, customs and foodways we're attempting to do the same.