The Japanese turnip is gorgeous! The gleaming white flesh is eaten raw. It is dense but not woody or tough, fresh-tasting with no earthiness or bitterness, not sweet, not tart, a tad fruity ... well, like daikon or jicama but not wet, less fibrous. I'm so glad there were several in a bundle, they'll star in salads like this all this week.
COMMUNITY-SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE ... a Good Idea in St. Louis?
I found the gorgeous turnips at the new-this-year farmers market in St. Louis' historic Tower Grove Park at the farmstand for Biver Farms (pronounced bee-ver, like the animal) which is the only CSA farm in the St. Louis area. Last spring, spurred by a frequent source of inspiration and encouraged by an enthusiastic thumbs-up from a friend-of-a-friend who had a Biver CSA in 2005, a friend and I signed up for a subscription ... at least we tried to. Returning phone calls and e-mails is apparently not Biver Farms' strong suit.
Or maybe it's because I mentioned I'd be writing about their vegetables?
At least one subscriber is not NOT happy with Biver Farms. On Saturday, I learned that turns out, Biver doesn't even really want to do CSAs; they attempt to steer prospective subscribers to the farmers markets, because the selection/choices will be better for the buyers and the markets are a more efficient channel for the farm. But Biver continues to offer CSA subscriptions because the farm relies on (is 'addicted to' is the language used by one of the two owners) what is essentially an interest-free loan that helps meet heavy cash requirements in the spring planting season.
The vegetables at the Biver farmstand are extraordinary: fresh, beautifully displayed, unusual. (Remember the radish d'avigon? Gorgeous.) I will buy vegetables from Biver again and again, as soon as Saturday, in fact. But it seems to me that if a spring loan is important to a farm, its summer payments, delivered via bags of vegetables, should be marked 'paid in full'.
Or should they?
I haven't yet done a CSA myself and remain much attracted to the concept. But what are reasonable expectations? And what does make a good CSA? I'd love to know others' experiences and perspectives on Community Supported Agriculture.
SALAD with JAPANESE TURNIP
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Salad greens dressed homemade vinaigrette (how to make salad dressing)
Japanese turnip, skins on, ends trimmed, cut into batons or diced
Apple, quartered, cored and diced (today, an heirloom called a gold rush which is excellent!)