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And that’s a fun thing.

By Beth Kaszuba

Sure, there’s a certain comfort in knowing you can always get your usual brand of beans in supermarket aisle six.

Nothing wrong with that.

But if you’re ready to add a dash of daring to your culinary life, our region’s farmers markets and farm-based CSAs — short for community-supported agriculture — might just offer the summer adventure you’ve been craving as much as a freshly picked tomato.

An assortment of vegetables displayed at a local farmers market.

How can you challenge yourself at a market?

It’s easy. Commit to filling your (reusable) bag with only in-season, local produce.

Not pumpkin-picking time? No squash-based pie this week.

But maybe there’s some vibrant, tangy rhubarb waiting to lure your imagination down a fresh new pastry path.

Want to take the game up a notch?

Join a CSA, where you can sign up for a share of the harvest, which usually means you get a weekly grab-bag of whatever’s ripe and ready to pick.

If basing the week’s menu on a mystery box of ingredients sounds too daunting, many CSAs, like Fullers Overlook Farm in Waverly, tuck in suggestions and recipes.

“Each week, we have a newsletter,” explains farm founder Liz Fuller, who says most shares do include “a few oddball” ingredients. “We offer storage tips and recipes for everything in the share. We also love talking to members at pickup, swapping recipes and tips.”

Along with helping you get creative in the kitchen, a CSA membership might kindle a new love for an old fruit or veggie.

“We encourage everyone to try things, even if they’ve had it before and not liked it,” Ms. Fuller adds. “Between harvesting at peak freshness and growing varieties that taste really good, we often surprise people. They discover they actually like a certain vegetable they swore they hated.”

Talk about starting a healthy relationship.


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A woman carries a small crate of assorted vegetables at the local farmers market.

Unpack a CSA basket

Could you build a meal with these typical midsummer ingredients?

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Sweet peppers
  • Greens (salad mix, kale or chard)
  • Beans
  • Fresh onions
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Basil

(Hint: Try this hobo pack recipe.)