Culture & Entertainment

Kids eat vegetables: My CSA report -- asparagus, rhubarb

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Kids eat vegetables: My CSA report -- asparagus, rhubarb

By: Jennifer Gruden
I really want my kids to grow up with a taste for healthy food, and an understanding of where food comes from and what good food choices look like. (Click through for a few pictures if you aren't seeing them.) One of my biggest tools for good has been a CSA share, or Community Sponsored Agriculture. Basically, we give a local farmer a chunk of money up front in the spring, and we get boxes of produce through the summer and fall. In my family's case the box is delivered to our front door (for a fee). CSA farm share: Asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, rhubarb As a family unit, here's the up side:
  • Fresh, organically-raised produce delivered to the front door
  • All kinds of crazy fun vegetables like purple carrots
  • Cost-wise the vegetables work out to be more expensive than conventional, but less than buying only organic at the store, so far anyway
  • Our particular CSA invites us to visit the farm
  The down side:
  • Timing and quantity: Did you know if it is raining when you pick strawberries you have to eat, cook or freeze them all that day? The higher water content makes them go bad quickly. This is definitely a first world type of problem but food waste can be an issue. I have wandered the neighbourhood with produce to give away. I've also invested in a deep freeze.
  • Sometimes we really do end up with something we find hard to use up like the time we got a bounty of tomatillos (Baby Potato Salad with Salsa Verde is a recipe I'm keeping on hand in case that happens this year...but my husband doesn't love salsa verde)
  • Produce does arrive with more dirt on it. I invested in a high-end salad spinner. (That phrase just makes me laugh but...I did.)
We've always treated the arrival of the CSA box like Christmas morning, (oh WOW, ASPARAGUS) and I think that is one reason my kids have stayed enthusiastic about the vegetables, theoretically. They don't always love them on the plate, but -- and forgive me if this sounds a little flighty -- my hope is that they just associate warm feelings with fresh, wholesome food. This year I thought it might be fun to do a "did they really eat it?" weekly report on the blog. So here's the first one. I am putting two boxes together as, if you have ever done a farm share you will know, spring starts off kind of slowly. Asparagus, a.k.a dinosaur trees, with dinosaur What we got: Asparagus, red and green lettuce, rhubarb, oregano, strawberries, storage potatoes. What worked: First, I will confess that we call both asparagus and broccoli "dinosaur trees" at my house. I stole this idea straight out of Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating which found a group of preschoolers eating broccoli at a higher-than-average rate, and tracked it back to one imaginative mom. Since my kids are generally crazy about anything dinosaur, that helped them eat up Roasted Asparagus With Lemon and Parmesan. I also sent a Rhubarb Coffee Cake to school for snack, and in lunches and unsurprisingly, cake is a hit. Dust anything with sugar... Preparing rhubard for the coffee cake The potatoes give me a chance to share a trick I learned this year: You can use an apple wedger on potatoes to really quickly cut and roast them, so that's what we did, and they ate a ton. I leave the skins on for additional nutrition, and because I am lazy about peeling. Warning: Your children may fight over the "round" (cylindrical) pieces. I tossed our potatoes with olive oil and the fresh oregano. What didn't work: Steamed asparagus with just a bit of sea salt was okay, but the roasted asparagus went faster. Lettuce is never really a hit with my kids, and the slightly more bitter red lettuce really put my toddler off. There was one exception: Chopped up "sub style," my oldest ate some in his sandwiches. What's your family eating this week?
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Kids eat vegetables: My CSA report -- asparagus, rhubarb

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