Since the beginning of June I have been receiving a box of farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Coopers Farm every Thursday. Two weeks ago a wrote about Why I (Sometimes) Choose Organic and included a photo of what was included in that week’s delivery. So what was in yesterday’s box? As pictured below, there was: 1 broccoli, some strawberries, 1 cantaloupe, a bunch of basil, 1 medium white onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 large cucumber, a bunch of yellow beans, 3 sweet banana peppers, a bunch of jalapeno peppers, and several tomatoes (which I forgot to include in the photo)! Sadly, there was no corn – hopefully there will be some again next week, because last week’s corn was truly some of the best tasting corn in the world! Still, even without the corn, this week’s delivery is pretty great.

I’ve already used the strawberries to make a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp using the recipe I posted yesterday for Blueberry Crisp. I just can’t get enough of that crumble topping!

For lunch I made some Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers and also used some of the stuffing in zucchini halves left over from last week’s box, similar to the Zucchini “Boats” With Home Fries I posted last month. I sprinkled a generous amount of chopped basil over top the stuffed peppers and zucchini. It was so yummy!

I will probably use the yellow beans as a side vegetable for a meatball dinner, similar to the picture below. I made this last month but haven’t gotten around to posting the recipes for the meatballs, coleslaw, and German potato salad, so stay tuned for those coming very soon.

I cooked the broccoli this evening and will use it in tomorrow’s lunch: Noodles and Cheese – definitely one of my children’s favourites.

The cucumber, garlic and onion will either be used in a Refreshing Cucumber Soup or in a Mixed Bean Salad for which I would also use some of the tomatoes and basil. Here is a photo of the Mixed Bean Salad (just pretend you see some mixed beans in there!). Recipes for these to follow soon. If you can’t wait, you can make this Cucumber Salad With Kefir Dressing recipe I posted in the spring. You can subsitute greek yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk for the kefir.

My kids have already been eyeing the cantaloupe, so that will probably be one of their snacks tomorrow!

So that leaves only the peppers. Honestly, I have no idea what I will use them in but I promise to tell you if it turns out to be blog-worthy!

How would you use the contents of this week’s box?!

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As the debate over organic versus non-organic continues to grow, so too are my children growing. And it’s for that reason that I (sometimes) choose organic. I know their tiny bodies are exposed to a lot more cancer-causing pesticides than our adult ones (since children eat a greater volume of food compared to their body size and weight than adults). I also do it, because deep down I believe that organic farming practices are better for the environment, and I would rather my grandchildren inherit a cleaner world than that which my own children have been born into. Add to this the ethical arguments for consuming organic meat over conventionally raised meat and,… well it almost makes me want to go entirely vegetarian, or even vegan!

Pictured above is what I received in this week’s CSA box (excluding two large cucumbers, which I had already stored in the fridge and forgotten about!)

I wish we could afford to buy everything organic (all fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, grains, etc.), however, given that I am a stay-at-home mom, we do need to watch our spending. Granted, we could choose to forgo vacations, home improvements, etc. But for now, during the summer months, we purchase most of our fruits and vegetables through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, called Coopers Farm. While they are not certified organic, they grow as close to organic as possible, using sustainable and organic practices. I will discuss this in further detail in a subsequent post. This year we have also purchased a monthly beef share from Coopers Farm. Their beef is raised on pasture, fed only a small amount of grain, and is hormone and antibiotic free.

As for the remaining items, some of our purchases at Costco are organic (for example quinoa, agave nectar, honey, and almond butter). Very rarely have we purchased organic milk; it just seems prohibitively expensive. Recently, I’ve done some research and feel that from a health perspective at least, “conventional” milk is just as safe to drink (though the environmental and ethical arguments for organic milk are certainly very strong).

Ideally, I would like to always purchase organic fruits and vegetables that appear on the “dirty-dozen” list, which tells you which 12 fruits and vegetables you should purchase organic to reduce your exposure to chemicals and which 15 you can buy “conventional” to save money. Also, ideally I would like to eat only organic, ethically raised meat. This is definitely more expensive; however, we could offset the higher cost by increasing the number of vegetarian meals we eat. This, however, will be difficult for my husband, who is a meat-lover.

For now, I feel good about our decision to join a CSA that uses organic and sustainable growing practices, even if they are not certified organic. If you aren’t already part of a CSA, I would highly recommend joining one! Just be sure to do your research before you commit to a particular farm, as farming techniques, produce offerings, and prices vary from farm to farm. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about my experience with CSA.

Here are some websites related to this topic which I have found useful:

What are your thoughts on the organic debate? Do you buy organic? Why, where and when?

Come check out a weekly “link party” where bloggers near and far share links to their CSA stories and recipes on an inspiring blog called In Her Chucks!

Disclosure: Coopers Farm has not in any way provided me with any incentives (financial or otherwise) to make any of the above statements.