The Difference Between the CIA and a CSA

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Deardorff Family Farms CSA Box

What is the difference between the CIA and a CSA? One sows seeds overseas and the other sows seeds near the sea. OK, clumsy analogy but now that I’ve got your attention please read on . . .

CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a relatively new movement in the United States. It started in the 1980s offering subscribers a box of seasonal, fresh produce at a reasonable cost.

The really neat thing about CSAs is that they offer participants a direct connection to the food put on their table. You’ve heard the phrase “from farm to table?” Oxnard’s Deardorff Family Farms does just that. They bring organic farm fresh produce direct from their farms to your table. Well, they don’t deliver straight from the farms. They have nine locations in Ventura County where you pick up the CSA box every other week, but you get what I mean.

Christine Smith gave me a CSA box at their headquarters and challenged me to use all ten items in one elaborate meal. As soon as I got the box home I opened it to find layers of colorful and farm fresh goodies. When I say fresh, I don’t mean warm, limp greens. I mean crisp veggies and firm fruit. In the box were collard greens, celery, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, cilantro, turnips, kale, fennel, avocados and blood oranges. The blood oranges were the best I’ve ever tasted.

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Blood Orange Slices (with fennel slices for the salad)

Here’s the prix fixe menu I developed using the ingredients in the CSA box: 


Crostini with Fresh Kale (kale) 

Salads (choose one):

Sweet Blood Orange Salad (blood orange, avocado, fennel, chopped romaine lettuce)

Mushroom–Orange Salad (red leaf lettuce)


Spicy Collard Greens with Basmati Rice (collards)

Entrees (choose one):

Savory Tarte (fennel, turnips)

Savory Ojai Pasties (celery) with Dipping Sauce (cilantro)

“Why” you ask, “does the menu not include dessert?” The answer is simple. I’m holding out for another CSA box and then I’ll add dessert to the menu. Wish me luck!

NOTE: Send an email to me and I will send you the recipes created with these ingredients.

About Valley Vegetarian

The fresh chef providing consistently good vegetarian comfort food recipes.
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1 Response to The Difference Between the CIA and a CSA

  1. Thanks for this awesome post, Randy!! The recipes sound great 🙂


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