A membership to the chain grocery store netted me a wimpy plastic card, slightly improved prices and the privilege of buying the same imported produce as everyone else.
Then, this summer, I discovered a little market called Nalls Produce. It was a lucky Google result to a desperate search for local, seasonal, affordable produce. On their website I found an invitation to join their crop share program.
Each week, Nalls staff selects from the best fruits and vegetables, sorts them into members’ boxes and then emails us to come collect them. For $160 up front, I receive a good sized box brimming with the farmers’ choicest picks of the season each week for eight weeks.
When I picked up my first box, I couldn’t have been more pleased, and every week it gets better. I have learned what fruits and vegetables are seasonal, not simply what the chain grocery store has shipped in from Timbuktu. Because the produce is often from just around the corner, the apples bite back, the corn spurts in my mouth and the squash is delectable.
I suppose that the vicinity of the produce has something to do with the fairness of the prices. Never before has $20 a week purchased so much food! As a vegetarian, I can eat my weight in fresh foods and with Nalls crop share, I rarely have to go anywhere else.
This summer, I made several batches of my own salsa using corn, tomatoes, onions and peppers from my crop share. I never made the same recipe twice. That was before I discovered the endless list of recipes available on Nalls website. New recipes are added regularly to suit the specific produce in each week’s box. Every single recipe posted has been tested and taste approved.
One day, standing by the eggplants, a gentleman was enthusiastic, “Isn’t this place wonderful? I can’t believe I’ve just found it!” He hadn’t heard of the CSA yet, so I told him about the beauty of the program. It’s like having a personal grocery shopper! By the time we bid farewell, he joined the crop share, too.
I feel like I’ve been adopted into a family. Each week, I pick up my box with my best friend. Usually, we run into people we’ve met the week before, and I’m getting to know the staff by name. Now this is what it feels like to belong!