Cornucopia, Ch 15
We’re in our CSA season’s sweet spot. Every box is bountiful. Rather than focusing on produce exhaustion, I embrace the CSA’s cumulative effect. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
August is Minnesota’s garden yield month. Everything seems to be coming in. Summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, new potatoes, uncured garlic and onions, eggplants, peppers, melons. If it grows in Minnesota’s climate, we’re eating it now.
With five mouths to feed, I can just about get through a full weekly CSA share. Except in August. The August boxes overwhelm our consumptive capacity. Thankfully, processing and preservation extend the summer garden’s yield into fall, winter and spring.
Every item listed above can be canned. Several lend themselves to blanching and freezing. Pickling is an underutilized food preservation method. You could pickle and preserve for the long haul by canning or you can buy yourself several weeks through short-term refrigerator pickles. Then, combine those pickles with other foods as the CSA box relentlessly delivers. This is where the cumulative effect is experienced.
The larger, overarching cumulative effect is personal and family health and diet. More than once already, several of my family members have noted that non-home prepared food tastes saltier or sweeter. This is a standard by-product of increased home cooking and consumption. Mass-prepared foods are sweeter and saltier by design. If you eat out a lot or eat a lot of prepared food, you likely don’t notice the effect except maybe on the bathroom scale. That’s one darker example of cumulative effect.
I prefer the one flowing from my CSA box. Last week, I made pesto. This week, facing a small mountain of summer squash, I decided to make sandwiches for Saturday lunch. I sliced a summer squash on my mandoline using the thinnest blade. I brushed those slices in olive oil and grilled them quickly over high heat, seasoning the slices as they came off of the grill.
Next, I smeared one slice of fresh, white bread with the refrigerated pesto and the other slice with the last of some goat cheese. I on piled the grilled, thin summer squash slices, followed by a layer of fresh tomato slices. I was tempted to add fresh basil but, with the very flavorful pesto anchoring the sandwich, I decided that the fresh basil was both overkill and would be lost in the mix.
Everything except for the bread, cheese and olive oil came from our CSA farmer, Norm. That’s my idea of a positive cumulative effect and it’s part of my personal strategy to move Minnesota forward, one sandwich at a time.