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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local produce from farm to table

Posted by: Susan Parke, Education

This summer Woodland Park Zoo is promoting four different actions that we can all take to slow climate change through our food choices. One of these actions is to eat locally grown, seasonal produce, which has a lower overall carbon footprint than eating higher up on the food chain or sourcing food from far away. To do my part, I decided to join a CSA this summer—a Community Sponsored Agriculture program, just about the easiest way to get local produce from the farm straight to your dinner table.

Every week I get an email reminder from the CSA to select eight items of locally grown produce that will be included in my box. So far, as I expected, there have been mostly greens, both salad and braising, but there have also been vegetables and grains as well. My first week I selected baby fennel, spring onions, turnips, yellow potatoes, a couple of different kinds of salad greens (including arugula – yum!), braising greens and eggs. Eggs fresh from the farm bear little resemblance to eggs from the supermarket. Their yolks are a deep orange-yellow, and they taste so good! With a touch of salt and pepper, you are in for a treat.

My favorite food box item right now is the bunch of braising greens. They are thicker and deeper green than salad leaves and includes a mix of kale, beet, mustard and other greens more suitable for cooking. I usually sauté some onion in olive oil, add some garlic, salt and pepper, and then some other vegetables such as zucchini, green beans or garbanzo beans, and some tofu. Once all of that is nicely cooked, I add vegetable broth, and as soon as it’s hot, I add the greens. (Be sure to use a large pan – the greens pile up quite high until they start to cook!) I’ve had these greens on noodles, or just by themselves in a small bowl. It’s delicious, and really healthy. I’ve ordered two bunches of braising greens for this week’s food box!

Every Thursday I meet up with my fellow zoo staff members who have also joined the CSA as we pick up our boxes of farm fresh foods. It’s fun to see what other people have selected, and hear about how they plan to prepare it. Last week one person got wheat berries, and another got beets. (She was planning to bake them in the oven whole, slip off the skins when they were cooked, and add just a little butter for a super sweet treat.) I’m getting fava beans this week. I’m not sure how I’m going to fix them, but that is part of the fun of getting a box of vegetables every week. Good for the earth, good for my family, and tasty, too!

Sounds too good to pass up? Check the Puget Sound Fresh website to get a list of the Community Supported Agriculture farms in your area.

Photos courtesy of thebittenword.com at flickr.com.

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