Photo by Kate Schwager.
“Beets are my spirit vegetable,” says Andrea Bemis, farmer, foodie, and blogger. “I love them because I used to hate them. It’s not like I grew up eating beets! But hauling in hundreds of pounds of those root vegetables, I decided we were going to eat them, and we had better like them.” Bemis is the creator of Dishing Up the Dirt, the popular blog, featuring Tumbleweed Farm in Parkdale, Oregon. “After the longest day on the farm, we threw together a beet pizza, using some leftover dough, and pureed beets as the sauce. That first bite was totally worth the back pain,” she says.
If you’re learning to love vegetables, do yourself a favor, and start following her on Instagram. It’s a steady stream of vegetable love, from spring planting to fall harvest, as well as baby chicks and Henry the farm dog. Best of all, Bemis has a beautiful new cookbook coming out, which will help you figure out what to do with beets and all their brethren. Consider it the nudge you needed to sign up for a CSA box, visit the farmers’ market a little more often—or at least, finally enjoy eating your greens.
When asked why it’s worth signing up for a CSA box, here’s what Bemis says about the benefits of getting your veggies straight from the farm.
4 Reasons to Sign Up for a CSA Box
It’s actually less expensive. “Contrary to popular belief, CSA boxes are not more expensive than shopping at the grocery store,” Bemis notes. “People are put off by the upfront cost, but most boxes come out to less than $30 per week. A half bushel of vegetables feeds a family of four. That’s totally reasonable, especially when you’re getting the freshest produce available!”
You get the best ingredients. Conventional produce sits on a truck and then a shelf for days or even weeks. By comparison, farm-fresh veggies retain more nutrients—and flavor. And many farms, including Tumbleweed, put their CSA customers ahead of the restaurants they supply. “We pick your veggies within 24 hours of delivery,” says Bemis. “You don’t have to be a farmer to know that fresh tastes better.”
You get to try different veggies. Are you stuck in a grocery rut, buying the same sweet potatoes and kale every week? Breaking into a farm box is a pleasant surprise. You’ll naturally start cooking with the seasons, and get to try “new-to-you veggies,” like turnips and rutabaga. There might even be ingredients you can’t find at your grocery store, like kohlrabi.
You get lots of recipe inspo. Did you get lost at kohlrabi? Even if you’ve never cooked a turnip before, you’ll likely be covered. Many farms slip recipe ideas and more into their boxes. “In my weekly newsletter, I offer lots of prep tips, recipes, and inspiration,” says Bemis, so you don’t have to struggle to get through a box, or suffer from zucchini fatigue.
You get to be part of a community. Without any extra effort, you’re eating locally and supporting a small business. “It’s badass to get to know your farmer!” Bemis says with a belly laugh. “The CSA folks are really the heart and soul of our farm. We love to see your photos and hear what you’re cooking for dinner. It’s rad to see our food on someone’s table.”
If you can’t handle the commitment of a weekly box, of course, these are also great reasons to shop the farmers’ market. Either way, you’re going to love Bemis’s cookbook and recipes, which succeed in making veggies absolutely delicious. Her favorite trick to make any vegetable taste awesome? A drizzle sauce. There’s a whole spread of them at the beginning of the book. Plus, “Everything tastes better when you cook it yourself. So get the freshest veggies possible, season well, add an awesome sauce, and don’t take it so seriously.”
Hungry for more? Check out three delicious recipes from Dishing Up the Dirt.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.