It all started with a simple decision.
Like taking a daily multi-vitamin or flossing regularly, I wanted to make healthier choices.
So I signed up for Tanaka Farms' produce service. Each week I will receive a box of feshly picked, locally grown fruits and veggies to help me expand my dietary horizons.
Maybe you're like me: you fill your grocery cart with the same old standbys every time you visit the market. You gravitate to sweet corn and carrots. You fear swiss chard and kale. And even when you do happen to purchase fresh produce, it remains trapped in its plastic bag, withering and ignored in the back of the refrigerator vegetable drawer.
Enter Tanaka Farms and its popular CSA program.
CSA, or Community Supported Agcriculture, has used the latest communication technology to connect farmers with a larger base of customers.
This online marketplace allows for direct to customer deliveries, which is more profitable for the farmer and far more convenient for the consumer.
Over the past 25 years, the nationwide CSA movement has become a popular option for families wishing to find fresh-from-harvest food.
It's the ultimate win-win situation.
I use my grocery dollars to support local farmers. In return I receive a new variety of farm-fresh veggies every week, ready to pull me out of my nutritional rut.
It all began on Saturday morning when I received my first little box full of mystery produce.
I could have arranged for home delivery through Winder Farms, but since I live less than five miles from the stand, I decided to pick it up myself.
You don't choose your weekly selections with CSA. Each box's contents are chosen based on what's fresh right now. As the weather changes, so does the variety of fruits and vegetables that are inside.
I opened my box with anticipation, anxious to see what surprises were in store....
Green Leaf Lettuce, A few potatoes, a bunch of carrots.....so far, no big stretch.
The local historian in me was happy to find Valencia oranges and green beans since they were both signature crops on the former Irvine Ranch. ...Okay, the Irvine Ranch grew lima beans, but it was close enough.
There was a melon that I didn't have to thump, smell or squeeze to choose the right one.
Finally, there were six ruby red tomatoes and the darling of nutritionists everywhere: kale.
Like a contestant on the Food Network show, Chopped, my challenge was to use all of the ingredients laid out on my table before the week was through.
Saturday: I made a chopped garden salad for the neighborhood potluck dinner. Just looking at my bowl full of fresh vegetable loveliness made me feel healthier already.
On Sunday, I cooked up a pot of vegetable minestrone, starring the potatoes, carrots and, my new best friend, kale. I could have opened a can of store bought tomatoes from the shelf, but I peeled the fresh ones instead. My Inner Martha Stewart cheered with glee.
My Monday morning greek yogurt was made much brighter with chunks of succulent cantaloupe mixed in.
On Tuesday, I needed some inspiration for the green beans. I checked out the Tanaka Farms website and followed Chef Bonnie's suggested recipe for Citrus Green Beans.
Wednesday afternoon, I sliced up some Valencia oranges and made a pitcher of infused fruit water to serve with dinner.
By Thursday, my goal was reached. My little brown box was empty and ready to be refilled for the next week. My family had consumed an entire box of produce in five days with minimum effort and delicious results.
I can't wait until next week!
Tanaka Farms CSA Produce BoxesLarge Box $30 Small Box $20
Every other week service available as well
5380 University Drive, Irvine CA 92612