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CSA teaching new flavors  RSS feed

 
Lorenzo Costa
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Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
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Hi Linda and all, I've been around CSA's but never really in one. Once I grew my food so didn't have the necessity, now from a few years without land, but on my trip to abundance again. Anyway, speaking with some friends that produce for CSA's, we were talking about the fact we may grow vegetables that are little known in our towns, and so how to teach people to expand their taste?
We loads of ideas from giving samples of new vegetables or flowers as a gift to buyers, accompanying the new vegetable with sample recipes and some presentation of the gift, hoping hte next time they'll ask me some. I'm in the phase of starting my farm and I'm looking and thinking about many ways to create networks with the people that will come to me or to which I will go.
This thing of small leaflets in the basket that explain what we do and what you can cook with a specific vegetable seemed a good idea.
Do you have other examples of practices one can use to teach people flavor curiosity?
We have a big defficiency in taste range today, used as we are to very few vegetables at all. I always like to recall this quote from Patrick Whitefields book, How to make a forest garden, in which he refers to Robert Hart's book and writes: "He notes that John Evelyn, writing in 1699, listed 73 plants that were commonly eaten raw in his day and added that many more could be added." Now 73 plants? I can think of maybe 30/35, 73!! how much have we lost. So narrow has our mouth become and so tasteless.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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A lot of people that subscribed to my CSA would have been perfectly content if I only provided green onions, storage onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, sweet corn, and cucumbers.

I grow about 55 species of vegetables in my garden, and 9 species of tree fruits/nuts. None of them strike me as particularly unusual.

My primary answer when someone asks, "How do I eat this?" is to add it to a soup, salad, or stir-fry.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Thanks Joseph, I can tell you that here, I live in Italy near Siena, even Daikon radish for some is unusual. At the extreme I can tell you that eating ruscus aculeatus shoots, butcher's-broom, that are sort of like asparagus is unsual for many, I love them.
It's probably that I have this romantic view of what will be with my clients, I know down in my mind that probably 90 percent will want what yours wanted, but even just one that asks for more, or i curious would be of satisfaction.
Still I think we can try to teach something growing food.
do we have to many slugs, or do we simply lack ducks? I can't find an example with vegetables and CSA subscribers, but in some way if the problem is the solution, there has to be a solution we haven't seen
 
Polly Oz
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I'm not sure that you can 'teach' a person to desire new and interesting flavours. Even within the same family, some children will be adventurous eaters and others not. Those of us with a broad palate are often bewildered by some people's avoidance of the new and unusual.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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see "teach" in a broad way, as a foreign speaker I may not have expressed what I meant. Of course we can see even with children there are those more adventurous and those less, but I think as for children it always gets down to what they see on the table as ingredients, if we never eat vegetables, I have some friends that are like that, I can't expect my children to be necessarily a vegetable eater, but its not an abolsute possibility.
My idea was if CSA's build a more close relation between the farmer and the subscriber, I would suppose that it's easier to have tha possibility to tickle curiosity with new ideas, thats why I thought of giving away recipes with new vegetables, so you show an option.
I cook celeriac in the oven and have taught many of my friends that used very little thinking it was good only raw finely cut. The same way probably my view is to not see it only like a basket delivery but an exchange moment where even a subscriber can tell me try to grow this it's good. Where I live we are a diverse comunity under a geographic view, people that come from different cooking traditions, and I've learnt a lot and why not think of a CSA in this way. Maybe in three years time after I'll have started I'll get back on the forums here seeing it all in a different way. But it's worth a try.
 
Linda Ly
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Hi Lorenzo,

Beyond giving CSA members new recipes with their vegetables, I think the growing trend (in America, at least) of farm-to-table dinners is an excellent way to introduce members to farmers and local chefs, as well as present the food in new and delicious ways. For people who don't often cook, it's sometimes hard to visualize how a meal will turn out if they have to make it themselves. But when someone else cooks for them, they'll be more likely to enjoy an ingredient that they were previously intimidated by.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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thanks Linda, the second option that I've thought of with some firends that own restaurants near me is to use ingredients that bring in new flavours. The last one has been eating shoots of ruscus aculeatus, butchers broom, that are excellent like asparagus, even better. Here they can be used inside filled fresh pasta, in omlettes, or with pasta, or just with lemon and olive oil.
 
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