My CSA Box – Part I

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

My weekly pick-up stop!

WORD OF THE DAY: lo·ca·vore

Ever heard of the word locavore? A dictionary will tell you that it’s used to describe a person interested in eating food that is locally produced and not moved long distances to market. One common – but not universal – definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles (160 km) of its point of purchase or consumption.

So what is CSA and what does it have to do with locavores?

CSA.. Hmm what does that stand for? Maybe you have an idea. It’s something about a farmer sending you a box of fresh veggies right? Oh maaaybe it stands for Canadian Shared Agriculture?! Close, but not quite. Turns out it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s an internationally recognized concept! I’ve been quite curious about the whole scene for some time now but I am finally making a commitment and getting involved! Here’s my story on how it all went down:

Phase 1: Do the research

There is a ton of great information on CSAManitoba.org

CSA Manitoba recommends you ask a couple of key questions before you sign up. Here are a few that I wouldn’t have thought of myself;

  • Do you provide recipes for less common produce? Some provide a weekly newsletter and recipes to help you make use of those veggies you may not have come across before (like, kohlrabi!)!
  • Is the payment in full or split?
  • May I visit the farm during the season?

The website has a very good FAQ page for other questions as well. I browsed the entire website and after a solid look I came to some conclusions.

Pros of a CSA box:

  • It’s like a subscription to fruit and vegetables. That is sure to make you way healthier than Cosmo.
  • Meeting farmers! Farmer’s feed the world, I’m sure they make great friends.
  • The produce is usually picked the same day you receive it! This is a huge advantage as much of the produce we get in Canada travels far and wide. When fruits and vegetables have to travel from Florida, California or Mexico they are picked under-ripe so that by the time they reach our grocery stores they are perfectly ripe. Makes enough sense but that means that the produce is ripening in a dark cool crate instead of being in the sun, attached to plant where it can continue to receive nutrients.
  • Strengthening the local economy. After all, you decide with your dollar.
  • I’m also looking forward to being challenged by new produce, which I would most likely avoid in the store. Maybe I’ll get a fennel…or is it just fennel? What’s two fennel? Fennels? Feni?!

Cons of a CSA box:

  • I can’t see any yet, I’ll keep you posted once the goods start rolling in.

Phase 2: Chose a farm.

CSAManitoba.org is also your go-to for this step.

Out of the 23 farms listed who offer the CSA program I decided on Jonathan’s Farm. Not only did I choose them because the drop off point is very close to my home but also because they farm according to organic standards and aim for sustainable Earth friendly agriculture. Now, I’m not 100% adamant on organic all the time, because I doe have bills to pay. But if I can grab a big box of organic veggies bi-weekly then I am not complaining. Plus Jonathan is an incredibly personable name so I already know he is a good guy.

Here are a couple of things that happen on Jonathan’s farm which contribute to sustainability of the land;

  • Cover cropping; No, not like a green house where you cover up the crops, also not a crop blanket made by the crop’s grandma. Cover cropping is when the crops act as a blanket for the land. Which keeps the top soil from blowing away and wasting nutrients.
  • Nutrient monitoring; A soil test which determines the amount of minerals and nutrients in the soil and allows the farmer to determine how to best supplement their fields.
  • Crop rotation; Planting different crops on the same land each season. Different crops give and take different minerals from the soil. Changing from potatoes to wheat or barley to canola allows the earth to essentially be recycled over and over instead of depleted.

Okay, I think I’ve shared what I wanted for now. If this has peaked your interest, you can always visit Jonathan at the Wolsley Farmers’ Market on Tuesday’s from 3:30pm to 7:00pm at 980 Palmerston Ave. Stay tuned for a follow up post on my experience with my first CSA box this summer. Can’t wait!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

My loot from a few weeks ago: green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, peas, spinach, swiss chard, turnips, scallions, radishes, basil + more!

Please note the content of this post was written by 4th year Human Nutritional Sciences student Johanna Adriaansen. Johanna also maintains her own website and is an aspiring Dietitian!

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Night In: Indian Style (and, getting personal)

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For the past several months, I’ve had this craving to share a different side of my life on the blog. My Indian side, which really isn’t so much of a ‘side of me’ as it is a part of me that has been longing to be acknowledged. It’s how I walk, it’s how I talk, and – in its entirety, it’s who I am.  I remember a time when I would come home, look in the mirror and ask myself, “why is my skin brown?” or, “how come my food smells funny?” At that age, I didn’t understand or appreciate my Indian heritage. Admittedly, I hated it. I was young, and to me being different didn’t translate to being beautiful; to me it meant I didn’t fit in with the norm. I interpreted myself as being the odd-girl-out and therefore somehow less than my peers. But thankfully, my perspective on my heritage eventually changed.
Inidan GNI_SideNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

As I transitioned from childhood to my teenage years to now being a grown married woman, I have this deep desire to connect with what makes me Indian. A large part of that is what I eat and how I eat. I love looking into the mirror and seeing my nose ring sparkle, my long black hair is worn proudly, and on days I choose to wear a bindi, I sort through all my sachets to find the perfect one. Most of all, I love the opportunity to wear sentimental jewelry; like my mangal sutra, which symbolizes my marital status (you’ll catch a glimpse of it in photos, it has dark black beads around the chain, it’s kind of beautiful if I do say so myself!).

Okay, okay, moving forward…so what does this have to do with food and your life?

Alas, here is the idea: I want to share Indian and Indian fusion recipes in the way I grew up with them. Similar to the “Girls Night In” (GNI) series I hosted last year, I decided to host another GNI, Indian style! Guests included: Chantal of ‘Nutty for Nutrition’, Courtney Rae of ‘The Fig Tree’, Jennifer Ashley of ‘Pretty Little Details’, Sara of ‘Soul Nutrition Consulting’, Jessie of ‘One + One Designs’, and of course, my closest friend, Christine (who you’ve met before!), who’s my nurse friend turned amazing food photographer.

Carrots and Cake, Nita Sharda

Thanks for putting this table together Sunayna!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Two words: hella yummy!

Take a peek at the video below which was produced by SambaJoy Photo + Art. I hope you love it as much as I do! Stay tuned for recipe details on all of the amazing dishes we prepped and promptly demolished. We’ll be starting with dessert first. Yes you read that right, I said wrote that for real. Dessert. First.

Namaste.

– With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Love Local, Love Manitoba

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a huge advocate for supporting local producers. This statement means that much more when you live in Manitoba; a part of Canada that faces extreme temperature changes and a very short growing season. But when has bad weather ever stopped Manitobans from doing anything?

This spring & summer, look forward to fresh local produce at Famers’ Markets across the city.  In fact, one of Manitoba’s largest Farmers’ Market has announced their opening on May 24th, 2014. Drum-roll please… it’s none other than the amazing Le Marche St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. When you get the chance to check it out, make sure you meet the many local producers and growers that are happy to serve this fine province.

At Le Marché St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, everything within sight will have been made right here in Manitoba – you can talk to the person who grew your dinner-table veggies, cared for the produce, and carefully construct drool-worthy pies.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local. And that’s kind of the same thing.”

I personally like to go to the market slightly hungry; it allows me to munch on some fresh Kettle Popcorn, sample cookies, or a stalk of crunchy celery as I shop around and enjoy music from live entertainers.

The “go local” food movement is far beyond any trend or a temporary fad. It’s here to stay, folks. People all over Manitoba (and Canada) are becoming more skeptical about where their food comes from, how it’s cared for, and – more over – consumers want to know who is producing the food that nourishes their family’s bodies. When you buy local food, you vote with your food dollar for family farms, thriving communities, and nourishing food.

 Over the next few months, make it a goal—go local.
 For more information on steps you can take to source local foods, visit Buy Manitoba. For more about Farmers’ Markets across Manitoba, visit the Manitoba Farmers’ Market Website.

     – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Off the Farm, In the City

Chilly outside, cozy inside.

Chilly outside, cozy inside.

I love Winnipeg, but as a self-proclaimed foodie it can be challenging to source locally-grown food given our northern climate. Though I may have to rely on California for my broccoli, and thank Chile for my grapes, I know I can always rely on our hard-working dairy farmers for local milk. When I spoke about my Food Philosophy I shared that I enjoy drinking dairy milk and nibbling cheeses.  For me, milk is nostalgia at its finest. Thanks to my mom, I have childhood memories gulping homemade lassi made with milk and yogurt—yum.

Where am I going with this?

I wanted to reflect on a wonderful event that connected me to local dairy producers, held at Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea (Must. Go. Back.). While sipping on lattes, guests listened to dairy farmer Henry Holtmann speak about the important roles farmers play in their communities. In addition to his talk being educational, it was endearing to hear Henry talk about the way in which he nourished and cared for his cows. I can say with confidence that our fine dairy farmers commit their daily lives to bring safe milk of the highest quality to our tables.
Carrots and Cake mingling_CnCPeople listening_CnC
Oh, I can’t forget about the delectable treats made by Winnipeg’s very own French bakery, A l’epi de Ble! The lemon tarts were my favorite!

They tasted as good as they look.

They tasted as good as they look.

Bite size pieces of heaven.

Bite size pieces of heaven.

Events like this can’t take place without the champions that host them. A big hip-hip-whooray to the folks at Grazing in the Field for finding an innovative way to bring the farm to our homes. I cannot stress the importance of supporting our local producers—think of it as an investment for the future of our communities.

For more information on upcoming Grazing in the Field events, click here.
Beautiful photography by Cory Aronec.

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