How Can a CSA Help Me?

After the holiday season most of us make resolutions to eat better and to exercise. “This year will be the year!” we convince ourselves. Week one and two are usually gravy (pun intended). However, if you are among the few that make it to weeks three and four then you already know how this short story ends. Now I’m not saying that all are unsuccessful but let’s be honest people – most are!

I am no health guru by any means but in the last year I have lost more weight and kept it off not by dieting by making lifestyle adjustments just as in my “Journey to a Healthier Me” series. Growing food is not light work by any means. Working outside growing the vegetables, having fresh vegetables on hand, learning how to cook them in tasty and creative ways, and having the understanding support of my friends, has been life changing for not just me but the entire family. Our children, particularly our daughter, loves eating foods raw right from the ground. It really is our new normal. The family is now overly critical of any store brought vegetables all because they now understand how it is “supposed” to taste!

The Bain & Hawkins Family are the first shareholders of Kith and Kin CSA. We both got into growing food because we wanted to feed our families clean, wholesome food. So when Kith and Kin CSA is in season we harvest for our families as too! As a side effect, our quality of life has improved. Kith & Kin can be just as beneficial for you and your family! How?

Having fresh vegetables on hand is really a huge step in the healthy direction! As a fast paced society, we generally eat what we have on hand. Old habits die hard! If our cabinet and/or fridge has junk foods then that is what we will go for. You know I’m speaking TRUTH! Let’s say it is a Thursday evening after work. Are you inclined to go to the grocery store, fight the 5 o’clock rush and buy some fresh veggies for dinner (and cook them), would you make due with what you have, or pull through a drive thru and get the family meal? Obviously none of these choices are wrong. We do what we can to provide for our families! Having said that, why not make it easier? When we harvest our baskets, we prefer prep by cleaning the produce and storing it in the fridge. So when the above mentioned situation comes around we can prepare a hearty home cooked meal fairly quickly!

Learning how to cook fresh vegetables may seem like a “duh” sentence but is it really? Did you know that a fresh cut head of broccoli may require more cooking time that one that is frozen? If you cook it longer then how do you preserve the nutrients? What if you are making a stir fry? When using fresh vegetables you are in control. No cooking or prep has been done at all. To some that maybe somewhat overwhelming but to us we like knowing that we are in control of our food and as a direct result our health! The salt content, tenderness, and nutritional value – all in your hands!

Rachel, I and our families have been homesteading for some years now. The mistakes we have made do not have to be yours! When we prepare our meals we are always thinking about our members so we take photos and I personally take notes (because my memory is unreliable) so as to be able to share our successes with you in the form of recipes and tutorials. Even in the off season as we are working with the fresh picked produce, we are creating recipes to share with shareholders in Spring or Fall.

Having the understanding support of friends is INVALUABLE! There is a support group for nearly everything! This is rightly so. A support group is defined as (according to the google search engine) “a group of people with common experiences or concerns who provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice.” I personally called up my mom when I was making a new recipe or one she had taught me and I’ve forgotten a step or two. When we shifted to trying to eat healthier I found that I needed to adjust ingredients here and there but I didn’t always know how to do so without ruining the recipe. I failed many times. I learned from those fails and I am happy to share that knowledge with our CSA members via our private Facebook group. I have only my knowledge to share however in our Facebook community of friends, in our private group, there are many who are vegans, vegetarians or even ova-pescatarians. There are some who eat exclusively organics and ones who mix it up. All that experience is there for all of us to tap into. Let’s face it, not everyone understands the journey of eating, no, living healthier. So having the encouragement & support of a group that does, is priceless!

So yes, a CSA can be beneficial for you and your family too. The above areas are just a few of the many ways Kith and Kin can benefit you. If you think about the unique needs of your family, we are sure you will come up with a whole host of other ways Kith and Kin can improve your lives. So rather than being among the thousands that go on fad diets and secure gym memberships that will only occasionally be used – CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Kith and Kin offers two options for you. A half share feeds a family of two (2 adults). Each week you will receive 5 to 6 items. A full share feeds a family of four (2 adults and 2 children). Each week you will receive 6 to 8 items. Our feature image above is from week eight of the full share. Among the goodies were Thai Eggplant and Fennel which are not commonly found at farmers markets in the area. Our members did not have to fret about how to prepare because we already shared recipes earlier in the season!

If this seems like something you want to be a part of then we invite you to join us before December 31st when our early bird special concludes. Early bird members get a free jam or jelly as a nice sign up bonus! If this does not seem like something you want to be a part of, that is just fine. We understand that this is not for everyone. We will continue to offer our fresh produce at farmers markets and online via our online shop. However, our shareholders come first and will always be given priority when it comes to what we have growing during our Spring and Fall seasons. Our expansions do allow both Bain Home Gardens and Hawkins Homestead Farm to offer more than we ever have so stay tuned as we bring quality produce – from our family to yours!


The Fresh Factor – The Knockout

Spring is just around the corner. With this time of the year comes a whole host of beautiful fruits & vegetables of all shapes and colors! Ah the beauty!

Until then most of us are relegated to buying our produce from grocery stores, which as our analysis has shown, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Our final trip to local a grocery store yielded very similar results.

The beans – really, I think the brand itself is just a poor quality one although being certified USDA Organic. Truly, that breaks my heart. In all three stores they were all degrading and in this particular store it was so nauseating that I didn’t even take the photo below using them. The beans were literally slimy although still being within the best by date.

During our expedition we purposely withheld the name of the grocery stores. You are savvy people, you likely figured it out. Test you skills by clicking on the photos below. What we also withheld was that each trip we held ourselves to a $45 budget. In some cases the selection was minimal so we had to double up on some products.


So what have we learned? Well, there are pros & cons to buying organic produce from grocery store chains.

Pros:

• Ease of access

• Year round availability

• Modest selections

Cons:

• Costly

ORGANIC DOES NOT EQUAL FRESH

In other words, it can be risky. We buy organic to avoid the dangers of pesticides and chemicals. It is reassuring to know someone somewhere took the time to care for the very soil that grew our food. Examination of the NOP (National Organic Program) basic requirements reveals continuous and strenuous effort goes into the land of organic farmers and into the produce that results. So we are very thankful for said effort. The goal of this series is not to discredit organic farmers. In fact we ourselves have begun the arduous organic certification process. This means that although not currently certified, ALL OF OUR PRACTICES must adhere to NOP guidelines. The goal of this article is however to help you enhance your vegetable purchasing experience. How? Enter Kith & Kin CSA. Kith & Kin CSA will feed your family of 4 fresh organic produce for 12 weeks at, you guessed it, $45 a week. Our produce is harvested the day before delivery, meaning that it is no more than 24 hours old when you take possession of it. Trust us, there something so very tasty about eating fresh food. It requires less cooking and less seasoning due to the natural flavors being so fantastic! So if you are ready for a change and want to try something new then give Kith & Kin a try. More details here. From our family to yours!


The Fresh Factor – Round Two

This week our friends over at Hawkins Homestead Farm joined in on our little adventure. They also went in search of fresh organic produce locally. What did they find?

Everyone has their favorite grocery store. Personally, I have favorites for meats, a different fave for fresh produce & even a different one for dairy & bread! This makes grocery shopping for a family of four a chore – an olympic event – if the budget is tight! So it is vital that when we purchase organic produce we are getting the best for our money. We have to consider the cost versus the quality & quantity.

 

In our most recent adventure, we found a greater variety of organic produce which was very encouraging! The cons? As with our previous venture, sadly some of the items also showed degradation. As you can see in the middle photo above, the green beans are clearly in bad shape.

So as someone who is trying out this “organic” lifestyle, what do you do when you attempt to purchase organic green beans and they appear to be degrading in the bag? Perhaps you buy them and pick through the bad parts. Will there be a sufficient amount for your family after the fact? Or maybe you head over to your favorite produce grocer and find just what you need though not organic it is half the price! Deal right? Perhaps. There is however another option to consider. Buying local is the surest way, besides growing your own, to bring fresh produce home to your family. Although individual farming practices vary, here at Bain Home Gardens our produce is usually harvested no more than 24 hours before it appears on our farmers market table. Fresh indeed! Just one more reason to buy fresh & to buy local.

We have one more local store to check out. Stay tuned for round three. This could be the knock out round! From our family to yours!

Photos by Hawkins Homestead Farm

The Fresh Factor

For a second I want you to think of that one vegetable, that single solitary plant you find unpalatable. The one whose very smell repulses you. At the sight of it, your face turns all the way up. Now ask yourself, “Have I ever eaten it fresh?” For the purposes of this blog fresh means non-processed, chemical & preservative free, 24 hours or less from harvest date to purchase date. If the answer is “No”, you may be short-changing yourself. True some vegetables require time to cure. However, for the majority, fresh is best!

I love vegetables. In fact, there is only one that falls into the dislike category – mushrooms. Ugh. Grotesque! Sorry. It’s a hate – hate relationship. I have never tried them fresh but would be willing if the opportunity presented itself. The reason being is I have noticed with other vegetables such as Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Peas, Corn, and more (all of which we grow), have an improved flavor profile when eaten fresh. Corn – my gracious is like candy when eaten right from the plant. I’m honestly the wrong one to send for the corn harvest. Just sayin’.

Here is the thing. Many distributors market their produce as “fresh”. Others appeal to consumers by selling organic produce. However, does organic equal fresh? We went on a grocery store run recently to find out. You likely have some clue as to what we found. We were slightly dissatisfied with the organic selection.

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