Just up the road a bit, in Philly, there is an amazing restaurant called Vedge. I’m not sure when I first heard about it, maybe one of my magazines, or Chopped, or a random blog post somewhere.
I do know I love their recipes in their book. Like this one. I stumbled across this article recently and ended up buying the book online. For $9.99, it now resides on my iPad to inspire me when my CSA box comes.
Why? Because our Amish food cooperative CSA supplies restaurants, hospitals, schools and grocery stores within a 150 mile radius of the 100+ Amish farms who are members of this organic cooperative. I viewed, a while back, the Penske video by the general manager of Lancaster Farm Fresh, Casey Spacht. Casey had this vision, and worked with a small number, at the start, of Amish farmers to make it come true.
I also found, while reading my cookbook that the “dirt list” at the restaurant is inspired by those same vegetables that come in my weekly CSA. Baby Hakurei turnips. Chinese broccoli. Salsify (I am bummed, we haven’t gotten salsify in ages, it all must go to the restaurants).
Other local restaurants use the coop too. Like Woodberry Kitchen, in Baltimore. And, probably Great Sage, since the coop delivers to Roots. We are lucky that our CSA is supported year round, even when we don’t get the minimum 30 members in the winter. Why? Because the truck also delivers to Roots, MOM’s, Friends and Farms, to name a few of their local wholesale customers.
I do love this CSA for its uniqueness. They offer some really off the wall vegetables. It isn’t a CSA for the carrot, corn, romaine crowd. You have to want escarole, watercress, purple kohlrabi, bitter fruit, and other exotic things. You have to learn to be creative. You have to have a passion for discovery, and you have to love vegetables enough to want to use large amounts of them in your cooking. Even the smaller shares give you a great variety. You certainly get your money’s worth.
I just signed up for my sixth spring/summer share. I dropped back to a medium share, as the large was giving us as much as 25-30 pounds of organic vegetables weekly. The variety was great. And, at $31 a share, it was an immense bargain. The medium share is about $22 a share and will give us 7-9 different items, and about 15 or so pounds a week. Sure beats grocery store pricing for organics.
There are lots of choices for CSAs around here. I just happen to be committed to this small, focused, adventurous group of people who are willing to take on these and more.
And, it all comes down to that dirt list on the Vedge menu. Named because of the freshness, the seasonality, the joy of eating food that was just harvested. The typical turn around time from ground to table for this cooperative is two days.
Check out the book from Vedge. And check out our CSA. If you really love cooking and want a challenge, this is the place to find it. Great vegetables. A book of amazing recipes for inspiration.