How does it work?
When you subscribe to a CSA program you are actually securing your food -- in this case my organic vegetables supply. The thing is, if you're serious about consuming organic-only produce it's quite hard to buy them as they are not always available in the grocery stores. Even if there are any, you're not always able to complete your stock because they easily run out. Your only chance is to buy them in weekend markets. But who has the time to always go? In a CSA program, you're assured of organic vegetables supply week after week. And the best part is they'll be delivered straight to your home.
Meanwhile, as you continuously subscribe to the program you are helping the farmers that grow your vegetables sustain their livelihood. The bigger picture, of course, is you also help support organic agriculture in the Philippines.
By the way, the concept of community supported agriculture is not new. In fact, this is being practiced in many countries already where there is strong support for organic agriculture. In the Philippines, I've researched at least 3 companies that offer the program through the blog posts of those who subscribed (much like this one you are reading).
Photo credit: www.sustainable.ufl.edu
Green Goodness, where I subscribed to, only has one type of CSA program. The price of the program only varies depending on how long you want to be supplied with vegetables -- a 1 month trial pack or a quarter pack. In my case, I just subscribed to a month's supply initially just to see how well it goes. The 1 month supply is at least 24 kilos of vegetables and divide this with the number of weeks in a month and you'll expect about 6 kilos of vegetables delivered.
One month's supply of organic vegetables is about P4,800. It does sound pricey with each week of supply worth at least P1,200. But then if you're serious about changing your eating habits, more money spent on vegetables means less spent on processed foods, "Lucky Me" or what have you that is not healthy. Likewise, because Green Goodness is a grower and distributor of vegetables from Benguet, you know already that high land vegetables are well worth the price.
From the weekly supply of 6 kilos of vegetables here's what you'll get:
2 kilos of assorted leafy vegetables (4-6 kinds)
2 kilos of vegetable-fruit (4-6 kinds)
2 kilos of root crop (4-6 kinds)
Now here's the clincher: you won't really know what your supplies would be until they arrive at your doorstep. Sounds strange isn't it? How will you plan your meal for the week if you don't know what vegetables you're going to get? However, the people from Green Goodness explained it in a way that I was able to understand and not mind anymore. You see, not all vegetables have the same growing process and that not all are harvested at the same time. Sometimes, even the weather condition is a factor whether farmers will harvest enough for the week. Not to mention that some vegetables are also seasonal.
Still, I must say that I was a bit worried on how I will consume them; for one, they are all high land vegetables. I am more familiar with the low land types that are the staples in almost every ulam (meal) prepared at home, for instance the Pakbet vegetables. Then again, vegetables are vegetables; maybe I just need to familiarize myself with the high land types and just force myself to be creative in preparing them.
My 1st set
My 1st week of supply arrived early today. The truth is I was pretty excited to see what I'll get. I thought that if I already have plenty of vegetables in front of me I wouldn't have any choice but to consume them all. The challenge is how to make my kids get excited with day-after-day vegetable dishes. However it may be, one thing is for sure, we'll all be healthier with this change in our diet.
So presenting, my 1st week supply . . . .
This photo is completely unedited. I wanted to show here just how vibrant organic vegetables look like. I am really beginning to have a sense of appreciation with the aesthetic appearance of organic vegetables. The vegetable-fruits really look shiny and clean, unlike conventional vegetables that look pale with hardly any surface sheen. And they all smell clean and delicious, especially the carrots -- they smelled so sweet!
So here is what I got for the week:
1 bunch of Polunchay (pictured behind the cabbages)
1 bunch of Celery
2 bunches of Rommaine lettuce
2 medium size Cabbages
4 medium-large Sweet Potatoes
12 pcs small-medium Tomatoes
3 medium size Sugar Beets
2 medium green Bell Pepper
1 large red Bell Pepper
6 large Carrots (one of which is gigantic!)
1 large (gigantic again) Zucchini
2 large Cucumbers
Just enough or too much?
That depends. In our case, we are a family of 4 and enjoys vegetables. This week's supply could very well make for 3 kinds of ulam. At a single glance, I could already already see Pocherong Manok (with the sweet potato as substitute to regular potato), Chopseuy with Zucchini (trust me, it's delicious!), Tortang Giniling with carrots and green bell pepper included, Buttered stir-fry poluncahy with celery, and at least 2 days of Green Salad as sidings to any fried dish. The carrots seemed too much; but then maybe I'll just cut them into sticks and snack on them while working. They'll be great with a ranch dip.
So, high land vegetables are not so bad after all. But I'm still figuring out what to do with the sugar beets.
Buena Mano dish
To cap the day's excitement on this new and healthier diet, my husband rushed to make his version of the stir-fry polunchay with garlic. It was really delicious he wouldn't share me the recipe. But at least he was generous enough to share the proof of his cooking. We made this vegetable dish as a siding to Longaniza Hamonado instead of the usual atchara.
If I got you interested in community supported agriculture then give Green Goodness a call. You may reach them at 705-1956 to order. You may also visit their website at: www.livegreen.ph
Don't forget to share this article if you think someone else might find this interesting.
(UPDATE: July 8, 2014)
As promised, here's an update of my 2nd week of organic vegetables supply from Green Goodness. I got my 2nd week supply last Wed, July 2, and like the first time I was pretty excited to see what's in my CSA bag.
Again, this image is unedited, to show you just how wonderful they look in the raw.
Here's my 6 kilos for the week:
8 pcs medium size sweet potato
6 large carrots
3 medium size green bell peppers
3 large zucchinis
1 large bunch of leeks
2 heads of large cabbage
3 bunches of 3 types of lettuce
1 big bunch of french beans
4 medium size sugar beets
From the look of this table presentation I can already see:
- Steamed soy chicken with french beans
- Butter-roasted vegetables
- Double decker Hungarian wheat sandwich
- Sauteed ground pork with french beans, leeks and carrots in oyster sauce
- Tomato salsa for my nacho chips and as sidings to tuyo
Since this is a late post, the truth is, we actually made these mentioned dishes for the week. However, the dishes were too exciting to much I was unable to take a shot, except for this one.
Sauteed ground pork with french beans, leeks and carrots
But let me tell you that I enjoyed preparing the sweet potato because I experimented on it by roasting. I was planning on making mashed sweet potato as siding to roasted chicken, but instead I went ahead and roasted it in the turbo broiler -- and I was totally delighted with the result and flavor.
I always like to roast regular potatoes during Christmas season. I would pair that with my DIY ranch dip. I didn't waste any time wondering how the same would taste on baked sweet potatoes.
For this one I'd simply ask you to use your imagination, but this is how I did it:
Baked Sweet Potato:
About 5 sweet potatoes, cleaned well and cut into large finger-size
Oilive oil to lightly coat
Salt and pepper
Dash of Italian seasoning
In a small metal pan, put all the sliced sweet potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then the italian seasoning. Toss the cut potatoes in the coating mixture with clean hands. Then bake in pre-heated roaster oven for 15 mins. Avoid putting the oven in very high temperature to avoid drying the potatoes. Toss your potatoes around every 5 mins. Stop baking when potatoes are still soft or tender; this will allow for the sweetness of the potatoes when eaten.
DIY Ranch dressing
1 240 grams Nestle sour cream
About 2 tsp garlic powder (or just add more for extra garlic punch)
1/4 tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bits of chopped onion salt
Mix the garlic powder into the sour cream slowly and as you stir to avoid lumps. If your garlic powder appear lumply, use a small sifter when adding the powder to the sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and fold. Add more salt or pepper as you prefer.
This baked sweet potato was a winner that I had to do one more batch halfway through finishing the first. I was glad that the preparation and cooking was so easy. I must admit, I didn't like how I was accustomed to eat sweet potato -- boiled, lightly peeled then dipped in sugar. I really find it too boring. With this baked preparation I wasn't aware that I consumed nearly half kilo of this vegetable already, until of course the following day when I frequented the toilet. 'Twas a healthy dose of much needed fiber, thank you very much :-)
So there . . . community supported agriculture. Now, do you get the picture?
For me, I like it that I'm forced to think of ways to consume them. Unlike the usual meat that you store in the freezer, you can't do the same with vegetables that's why you're compelled again to eat them one after the other.
By the way, I just took the initiative of refraining from eating rice in the meantime and it's been fairly 2 weeks already. Before, i couldn't really imagine myself with zero rice in a day. But since consuming vegetables in every meal for the past 2 weeks, I did feel some energy boost and I wasn't experiencing that shaky-body hunger pangs. So it reallly must be the vegetables. I feel good already as I'm on the road to successful (much-awaited) weight loss.
I guess this is the advantage of subscribing to a community supported agriculture; when you are seriously considering practicing healthy eating habits, your subscription to the CSA helps you in not breaking that personal vow. If you're in an all-organic diet, the program helps you stay on track as supplies will always be available to you, as opposed to finding time to get your organic veggies in weekend markets or grocery stores. When your organic vegetables keep on coming you stay motivated, and that's the best part of the program.
You may also like to read:
Community Supported Agriculture: In introduction to CSA
Health Benefits of Organic Food