Boxed out

One writer’s struggle with her weekly community-supported agriculture spoils

What’s inside your box?

What’s inside your box?

Google “community supported agriculture” to find a CSA-box program that services the Sacramento area.

While I delight in the culinary process, the weekly bounty that is my community-supported agriculture produce box quickly becomes a burden for my refrigerator. Seriously, sometimes it feels like a vegetable avalanche pile out when I open the door. And the vegetables—everywhere!—are starting to create friction with my husband.

The quarrel derives not from the money spent on the box, as the “Regular Mixed” service is a drop in the bucket for organic produce, at $31.50 a week, but rather the amount of food wasted because of our inability to keep up with the pace of the deliveries.

In an effort to bring harmony back into my home, I started giving vegetables from my CSA box away to friends—a squash here, a cabbage there. But it doesn’t make a dent.

So, I decide to challenge myself to better stay on top of the heap of mounting fruits and veggies and cook more.

You see, when I signed up for the Farm Fresh to You organic produce delivery service, I thought it would be a great way to eat healthier and support local growers. Farm Fresh to You, based out of the Capay Valley about 90 miles outside of San Francisco, is just one of the many CSA organizations that provides local, organic produce. With several delivery options, customers are able to vary both the composition and quantity of these veggie boxes.

But, not quite knowing what I was getting myself into, I opted for the more robust package—the “Regular Mixed” box, which the company touts as the perfect size for couples who enjoy cooking. And so, cooking I embraced.

During week one of my self-imposed challenge, I took a complete a vegetable inventory. Not pleasant, as I discovered, hidden in the far recesses of the refrigerator, slimy cilantro and red chard wilted beyond recognition. Upsetting.

The inventory also unearthed two large bundles of broccoli, not a favorite vegetable. But it inspires to cook something I’ve never prepared before: broccoli soup.

For insight, I look to my husband’s late father’s potato-cheese soup recipe, thinking it could be a great starting point for my experiment. Success—I’ve reduced the vegetable mountain by two bundles of broccoli, several potatoes and, more importantly, I haven’t defiled my husband’s father’s recipe.

Despite these efforts, week two of the challenge brings a bit more spoiled produce. This time, a beautifully ripened avocado falls victim to neglect and slowly turns into a withered orb of mush, along with a bundle of green chard and parsley.

And, regrettably, yet another avalanche has formed in the fridge, cauliflower being the culprit. Cauliflower is a vegetable that has perplexed me for years. I look to my trusty recipe finder,, and discover one for cauliflower au gratin. Again, I luck out: Three heads have been extricated from the mountain and, better yet, my husband loves the dish.

The final week of the challenge brings with it, sadly, a little more spoiled produce. But to my surprise, the dirty looks have subsided. I decide to take full advantage of the CSA box and prepare the ultimate in veggie reduction: a frittata. With just a few eggs and a gaggle of veggies, I reduce the stockpile by half and can even see the back of the refrigerator.

To all those thinking about signing up for this delectably challenging service, think about getting the small box. It just might save your relationship.