locavore guilt

Parsnip, or evil mandrake root baby?

I’M SO RELIEVED MY CSA IS OVER for the season. I’m a huge fan of the “buy local” movement, but the pressure to cook and eat vegetables has become almost unbearable.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Regular citizens who love the idea of a garden but who don’t have yard space (or who, like me, kill every living plant thing they touch) can buy a share in a farm for the summer. The farmers grow and harvest the crops, and the CSA members get a pile of fiber-filled vegetables and a Locavore Movement, or L.M.

The problem is, I’m a mood eater, not a seasonal eater. Every week starting in late spring, we took home as much kale as we desired from our CSA, but I’m only in the mood to eat kale once every six years. I only eat beets when my mom cooks them with sugar and vinegar, I reserve my carrot intake for parties when they’re on a raw vegetable platter with French onion dip, and I can’t say I’ve ever craved rutabaga. Call me “locationally insensitive,” but in the middle of summer, my ideal snack is fresh pineapple, mangoes and chocolate.

Celeriac, broccoli raab, tatsoi, and turnips? No, thanks. Salad greens? Pass. Potatoes are a different story. Thank goodness we got plenty of spuds from our CSA because they are my ultimate mood food. Whether mashed, boiled, grilled, or French-fried, potatoes soothe my soul, much like tapioca or macaroni and cheese. But no matter how you dress it up, you can’t take salad out to the Comfort Food Ball.

Presentation affects my appetite, too. Dirty dumpling squashes tossed in bins don’t turn me on. Now if a farmer handed me a plate of butternut-pear raviolis with maple-glazed duck and rosemary sauce, I’d join that CSA in a heartbeat.

The best stuff available at my CSA this summer – green beans, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, raspberries and strawberries – were u-pick. I couldn’t find the time to dilly-dally in the field, can tomatoes or make raspberry jam (see “Do You Have a Ball Jar Addiction?” below). Though I think straw hats and retro aprons are sexy, a 1950s housewife I am not. Hand me the phone and we’ll order a pizza and crack open some PBRs. I actually bribed someone to pick my berries this year, but after she realized how much work it was, I doubt I could get away with that one again.

So we’re left with guilt: guilt for not u-picking, guilt for taking more potatoes than parsnips, guilt for composting the wilted greens hidden in reusable cloth bags in the back of the fridge, guilt for buying flowers at Wegmans rather than picking them on the farm. My CSA makes me feel bad about myself. If I really want a low self-esteem, all I have to do is plant a garden. Neglecting it comes naturally to me, costs less than a farm share, and my meager harvest leaves little leftover for the groundhogs who live in our compost pile.

Next year, I don’t think we’ll join the CSA. We’ll still eat local, but we’ll buy produce we’re in the mood for, as we need it, and when we know we’ll have time to cook it: A little eggplant here, a little corn there, and a little Viva Taqueria burrito and margarita every Friday.

Now go eat your spinach; there are groundhogs starving in Trumansburg.

*Do You Have a Ball Jar Addiction?

1) Do you feel like you always need more Ball jars, no matter how many you already have?
2) Every time you see Ball jars at the supermarket, do you have to buy a case?
3) Are Ball jars impeding the organization of your overflowing cupboards?
4) Has your partner, spouse or housemate suggested that you have a problem with Ball jars?
5) Are Ball jars interfering with your home life?
6) Have you ever gotten into financial difficulties on account of your Ball jars?
7) Does using Ball jars increase your sense of self-worth?
8 ) Do you have Ball jars hidden everywhere, like in your shop, your car, your workplace, your house, under your bed?
9) Do you need to consume something from a Ball jar at every meal?
10) Do you refuse to share your Ball jars with others, even those you love closely, especially the wide-mouth or decorative ones?
11) Have you considered canning strange things, like ground beef, cornbread or green tomato chow-chow?
12) Have you resorted to stealing Ball jars out of the neighbors’ recycling bins?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, then you have a Ball jar addiction. You need help. And you need to join a CSA.

-Amelia Sauter