By Cathy Johnson
There is a certain brand of candy whose slogan is “taste the rainbow.” It occurred to me over the last couple of weeks of the summer that we don’t need candy to “taste the rainbow.” We get it in our weekly CSA basket, grown right here in Mecosta County.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is that the consumer pays the farmer up front, before the season, a certain agreed upon sum, and then during the growing season receives an agreed upon amount of the produce said farmer plans to plant and harvest. There is a certain amount of risk involved (think weather, crop failure, etc.) but it usually works out to the benefit of both parties, at least it has for us in the years that we have been participating.
So where is this rainbow and what does it taste like? Here’s what we’ve had so far:
Red. The first offering of the season was rhubarb, with its green leaves and trademark red stems. It is used in pies, crisps, jams and sauces to name a few. There’s even rhubarb wine, but that’s another story.
Red is also going strong right now with a fabulous crop of tomatoes of multiple varieties. There is also a lettuce variety that is a mix of red/magenta and green. Delicious.
Orange. Carrots, of course, but there are also some orange tomatoes available. We’ve also been fortunate to have been able to taste the delicious nasturtium blossoms, whose dominant color is orange.
Yellow. There are a couple of varieties of yellow peppers of varying hotness and sweetness, and also yellow beans. The dragon beans we got this year were a lovely mix of yellow and purple when raw, and a shade of yellow-green when cooked. Intriguing. There is also yellow summer squash.
Green. Almost too many to count: the wonderful salad greens of multiple varieties., the kale, the leaves of the chard (whose stems are red, yellow or white), the green beans, the cucumbers, the cabbage, the zucchini, and the herbs, especially the basil. It’s kind of interesting that green is in the middle of the rainbow and so many types of produce are green.
Blue. I’ll bet you thought it was going to be blueberries, and it could well have been, but we don’t get blueberries from our CSA. The blue comes as…….potatoes. That’s right, potatoes. They’re not just brown anymore, they come in a multitude of colors, including red, but we haven’t had any of those yet. It was All Blue this week.
Indigo and Violet. These are together because it depends on what you call indigo and violet, but the two types of produce that fit here are the Purple Haze carrots and the fabulous aubergines or eggplants. And later there will be purple potatoes as well.
So who needs candy when Mother Nature provides a whole rainbow for us to nourish ourselves with? Thanks to all the local farmers who provide the CSA customers and the Farmers Market shoppers with a taste of the rainbow every week.