Metro/Laurie Callsen Lettuce and carrots are just some of the greens grown at the Edmonton Valley Zoo's enrichment garden.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season!

Ever popular in farming communities and springing up everywhere in cities, a box of seasonal veggies, fresh from the farm, is a welcome part of our growing season. There is nothing like knowing the person who planted, coaxed to life and harvested your food. To see the grimy hands (sorry, farmers, but it’s true!) that spend hours in the earth for your health and enjoyment corrects the perspective on how much food should cost and where it should comes from.

The only objection I have ever encountered to ordering a CSA box is the foods that can arrive at your door that are completely new to you. Not knowing how or what to cook can be an issue. Keep these rules in mind:

• Most root vegetables are interchangeable in recipes. If yours calls for turnip and you only have some gnarly Jerusalem artichoke or parsnips, use them.

• Cut the leaves off everything as soon as you get them. Store them separately and use them as you would any dark leafy green: in salad or sautéed. Carrot tops, beet tops and radish tops are all edible and delicious!

• Don’t rinse greens until you are about to use them. Then, spin them well and store with a paper towel in plastic in the crisper.

• Kale, spinach and chard are also interchangeable either raw or cooked. One exception is that collards take a little longer to cook and are too tough to be eaten raw.

• Any herb can be blended with olive oil and stored in ice cube trays. Then a freezer bag will hold them until you are ready to stir them into any soup or sauce.

Google “CSA” in your area. It will force you to experiment with new recipes and expose you to new nutrients.

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at myfriendinfood.com

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