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Here are some statistics and thoughts on what we've learned:
With 69% of members saying the quantity of grains was just right, another 30% said too much. For legumes, 57% said just right and 39% said too much. So we will be cutting back slightly on these and if anyone wants more, you can always place a special order.
- The consensus at the March member's meeting was to keep the variety, but offer smaller quantities of the less favored items
-go to the Food-a-Pedia for ideas on cooking grains and legumes, many submitted by CSA members.
- You'll find an easy to remember, no-fail method for grains and grain combinations at this link: http://sites.google.com/site/spiritualfoodcsa/food-and-nutritional-knowledge
-consider saving money by cooking grains (millet is excellent!) for breakfast instead of paying the high cost (in price and in health) for boxed cereal
- for legumes, to avoid digestive issues, pre-soaking is a must. Instructions are here: http://sites.google.com/site/spiritualfoodcsa/food-a-pedia/beans. At the farm I volunteered for in Alaska, during the beginning of the season each cook had to take the "pre-soaking oath!" Pre-soaking is very effective, sometimes changing the water several times, and remember to use fresh water for the cooking. It's really not hard once you get into the rhythm of it.
- if you overestimate quantity or dinner plans change, pre-soaked beans can be refrigerated and used in a few days, or even frozen! or cook them all and refrigerate/freeze the cooked beans for a quick meal another time.
- trying a new means of food preparation can be off-putting. However, many CSA members have commented that once they started, they got used to it quickly, and many have new favorites (even millet)!
Notes on fruit - most people would prefer more fresh fruit, however
- we offer as much local/regional organic fresh fruit as we can find, and we're always looking for more.
- Pests, fungus, and molds love to go after fruits in this region. Many a farmer have even said "you cannot grow organic fruit" ! We know that isn't true, it's just not easy. To my surprise, the president of a Maryland farmer's organization told us he didn't know of anyone growing organic fruit but if there was adequate demand, certainly farms would try. This is one reason we insist on paying a fair price for quality food and committing up front as in a CSA.
- My parents in Ohio use pesticide on our orchard just once a year (rendering it inorganic) to prevent a crop failure, but even then much of our heirloom and old variety apples, peaches, and pears are inedible. Having grown up with this knowledge, I'm even more grateful for the organic fruit we receive!
Glad to know most people want more dried fruit. I had thought maybe it was too much but this is something we can probably increase.
A hefty 62% said quantity of greens was just right and another 27% too little! This is great news to us because we used to hear people complain of too many greens. We still do see greens sometimes leftover at the end of the day, at least here in Bethesda but perhaps that is a problem of using the scales. Please make sure you or whoever you send to pick up your share is familiar with the ounce measurements.
Our new main farm, Kimberton CSA, has a reputation of great greens so we can look forward to more this summer.
Please keep in mind that we are VERY fortunate to have any local, organic/biodynamic greens at all during the winter and spring seasons. This is thanks to dedicated farmers who are willing to work year round and to greenhouse technology.
Other Food Facts
A solid average of 60-68% said just right on quantities of bread, yogurt, cheese and eggs although another 18-27% wish for more. Probably to keep the peace, we'll keep these quantities the same in the shares and all of them can be ordered extra if you like!
Root Vegetables? Well, not surprising that 40% said too much, but 4% said not enough! and 56% just right. When we are going local, we don't have that many options in Winter and we do actually limit the roots and starchy vegetables in favor of other things whenever possible. It's just what's available. This where CSA teaches us how to eat locally and according to the seasons, and the harvest year-by-year. Fortunately, the greens, dairy, fruit and dry goods balance out the share.
Notes about soil on food
- most often the food is washed by farm interns and volunteers, even groups of school children who visit the farm for a day to experience Mother Nature first hand. This photo http://picasaweb.google.com/spiritualfoodcsa/SankanacFarm#5296108036720577858 gives some idea of the process. Look for the big black wash tubs in the background.
- some items or days the food has more soil on them due to the conditions during harvest. Excess rain and mud really hampers the work.
- please keep in mind these are small farms that lack the industrial washing facilities of factory farms
- some foods, such as our lettuce, hold up much better when not thoroughly washed
Notes on nuts
- we were excited to see people wanted more nuts in the share
- So far, the farm that produces the almonds is the only biodynamic farm we know of that has nuts (and this is only in the last two years). We will look into this more in the future preferring a direct relationship with a farm than just getting from a distributor. Of course, many types of nuts are only available from beyond our borders so "local" will mean national and even that will be limited.
Other Interesting Facts
- 5 people who responded to the survey, and I believe there are a few more among the membership, use a whole share alone - for one person! While at the same time, some with several people in the household say they are dropping out of the CSA because they can't use all the food. Hats off to the 5!
- Most of the shares (64%) are held by 2 adults or families with young children. 11% families with teens.
- One fourth split a share with a partner.
- 60% say everyone in the household eats the CSA food while 30% say the children don't eat everything. So if you are one of those children, you are not alone!
-50% of members said they give foods they don't like to a friend!- 43% said they use it anyway! Both admirable
Unfortunately, 32% said that sometimes food rots and gets thrown away or composted.
This represents the challenge of CSA - to adjust our lifestyle to use the food even when circumstances are challenging such as we don't particularly like something or know yet how to use it, or cooking time/energy is limited or maybe it's just refrigerator management.
CSA does have its challenges and more so at the beginning. However, by the renewal rate, we know that the majority of members do get past the learning curve and value the benefits over the risks.
to those who have not yet renewed,
we hope you will think more about it and try again another season.
Tell your friends too to try the CSA
There are still shares available and we want
to use the full amount the farmer is growing for us!
To those with specific problems/questions, we wish you would contact us so we may try to alleviate them!
- A few people say they could not get here much during pick up hours to pick up their share - it can be bagged for pick up on any other day.
- someone said there were no instructions for the baking mix - they are available
- some don't know how to cook grains and legumes
- can't come on Wednesdays, but did you know there are opportunities for other ways to volunteer?
- Someone asked if they could volunteer Tuesday night instead - we'll think about that!
- wants to know how to better explain Biodynamics to others - there is a nice, pretty simple explanation on the website under the Why Biodynamics link with further reading for those who wish to know more.
We'll address other questions soon
A recommendation for those who want to learn about cooking beans and grains: Monica Corrado (former CSA member by the way) www.simplybeingwell.com teaches a dynamite class on beans & grains: