Introducing Meal Boxes! Beautiful CSA Veggies On The Way

Maybe you’ve heard about “meal kits.” These are packaged and shipped individual meals to make up fresh at home with recipes and pre-measured ingredients. Meal kits are quite an advance over TV dinners with their fresh whole foods and recipes that often come from  celebrity chefs.

Among the claims for these meal kits, offered by a number of lavishly funded start-up companies with various specializations (gourmet, organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), are things like “no waste” and “locally sourced.” It’s true that precisely measured ingredients allow you to avoid purchasing more than you need, but there’s the packaging, each ingredient in its own wrap, and the shipping box. And locally sourced? Would that be local to the business or to you?  Because first the ingredients have to reach the supplier for assembly into kits…and then they have to ship out to you.

These kits come at a time when Americans express an avid interest in cooking (witness all the popular reality TV shows, internet recipe services, and good old-fashioned cookbooks on Amazon). Apparently not so many actually want to cook, though. As for taking what’s on our plates a step farther back to its source in the ground…not so much that either.

But consider this rewarding and effective step you can take toward providing superior quality, truly local, affordable meals to your family with no waste whatsoever. This step makes you part of creating a movement for sustainable agriculture and part of reducing the vast food waste in this country, estimated at 40%. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near you!!

With most CSAs, there are a variety of levels for participation. The basic idea is that you buy a share for the season at the level you choose and receive fresh, local produce directly from the farmer on that basis. In doing this, you support local, sustainable agriculture and enjoy amazingly fresh, nutritious and delicious food.

Some CSAs offer a worker’s share, which is what I do. This gives you an opportunity to participate at a whole other level in bringing food to your family’s plates. My own participation is something I look forward to with excitement each year. It is spiritually rewarding and makes me feel that I have a part in restoring our earth and our relationship to it.

For those of you already in a CSA, this series of posts will provide suggestions and a couple of recipes to go with your box. I work for my local CSA, Bob’s Fresh and Local, and my recipes address what comes in Farmer Bob’s beautiful boxes each week. I plan to do more than single recipes, though, because what we really have are “Meal Boxes.” Each week, I’ll post about how to use the whole 3/4 bushel box, which at $34.50/week (a 20 week share broken down by the week) easily provides meals for a family with more to preserve for winter or share. I’ll focus on simple, flexible preparation directed at using the entire Meal Box with a couple of more detailed recipes.

In my first post several week back, I wrote about greens, how I handle them when they first arrive and what I do with them through the week. My next post, to go with the first of the boxes, will focus on how our boxes serve my family’s overall nutritional needs. Following that, I’ll dive into expanding our ideas of breakfast.

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Hope to hear from readers about your own experiences with local sustainable agriculture, delicious whole food preparation ideas and related thoughts.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

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