This is the first year my mother did not plant a big garden so we gave her some vegetable plants in pots for her patio. She called me a couple of weeks ago after picking and eating her first tomato fresh from the vine. I swear she spent 15 minutes extoling the virtues of that fresh tomato.

“It’s so sweet… fresh… Nothing compares to a fresh tomato plucked right from the plant. Did I ever tell you about the very first time I met your uncle Kelly? He walked into our garden and pulled a tomato from a plant and ate it like an apple! I had never seen anyone do that before.”

Fresh from the garden vegetables and fruit are bursting with flavor and are better for you. Period. The moment a tomato is picked it begins to change, its virtues declining by the hour.

We live in an urban area so a large vegetable garden is out of the question. Although I do have a few vegetables and herbs in pots but the majority of my fresh garden fare comes from my weekly, freshly harvested CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. My CSA box changes how I cook… First, I get my veggies … then the challenge: What will I make? And, I absolutely love the challenge.

Benefits of a CSA share:

  • Freshly harvested (which means it lasts much longer in storage)
  • Vibrant flavor
  • Organic, fewer or no chemicals or pesticides
  • Local
  • I know where it came from
  • AND, it forces me and my family to prepare and eat a variety of vegetables

This year we have a meat share, an egg share, a fruit share and a veggie share. I have learned to eat beet greens, use carrot greens in place of parsley, fine-tuned my beet roasting and forced myself to melt sweet cream summer (grass-fed) butter over my popcorn (oh so painful!).  Maybe this will be the year I get a red tomato in my weekly box and eat it like an apple just like my uncle Kelly.