The one and only time I ever purchased a CSA box was back in college.
It was for sale subscription-free at the pop-up farmers market that weekly sprung up in front of my student union, where I worked over the summer. Every week, I passed the vendor’s table, sidestepping towers of boxed produce, until eventually the persistent farm lass operating the stand wore me down with her pitch, and I bought one.
I spent $24 on a pre-selected assortment of beautiful, brightly colored produce. Imagine, readers: piles of radishes rolling beneath a wild canopy of butter lettuce and kale. All of it was caked in a layer of dirt so thick, so utterly repulsive, I knew it had to be fresh.
In the eight-minute walk back to my sweaty summer apartment, I entertained fantasies in which I had transformed into the kind of girl who carefully planned meals around seasonal food and/or food she already owned. It was a ridiculous exercise. I was no such thing. But in the dream, I was capable, thoughtful, thrifty, prudent. I was doing nothing specific, except for chopping green things to be very small. My knife skills were excelsior. Everything was saved and stored in the contents of the latest Pyrex catalogue, which I now magically owned.
It was not to be.
In reality, I used all of the berries and some of the greens. I considered the rhubarb with paralyzing indecision, then hid it from myself, that I might regain composure. The radishes made my mouth itch, and then burn, and then itch-burn. So I forgot the CSA and reverted to my sad state of eating packaged sandwiches and limp spinach from a store. The box sat neglected in the corner of my bedroom as a symbol of my shame, aging, changing, living, until the cardboard respired and the box’s contents reformed and reverted into their own unique ecosystem.
I threw it away when the smell became unbearable.
There are probably people who finish CSA boxes, but they are higher beings, responsible, adult, with condos and hyphenated surnames. I suspect for the rest of us, we wretches, my story is more common: aspire, neglect, forget, regret.
That is why I propose a CSA for the rest of us, the commonfolk, the uncreative, to serve our consumptive habits and needs.
Here are the contents.
What’s in season: fresh fruits like peaches, currants, blueberries; scallions; all manner of wonderful greens.
(4) fresh peaches
(1) bag of spinach
(1) bundle dewy, delicious herbs
(2) cups homemade granola
What’s in season: berries, still; and the fresh scent of your neglected food from last week liquefying in the belly of your crisper.
(2) steamer bags of frozen vegetable medley
(1) carton of strawberries
(1/2) bag of romaine
(1) whatever of quinoa, in a bag I guess, that’s protein
(15) tiny cups of Greek yogurt in so so so many flavors
(1) potted basil plant
What’s in season: “convenience,” or, taking easy way out; the beads of sweat on your brow as you strain, stretch your body between the current feasible reality and all you wish to achieve.
(1) trash can for the basil plant, which has died
(1) shaker of basil flakes
(2) wet wads of Mozzarella
(1) Grab-and-go rotisserie chicken, fat glistening in the steady light of the heat lamp
(2) rolls of paper towels
(1) loaf of supermarket Italian bread, whose consistency recalls that of the paper towels in a way that makes you pause
What’s in season: denial; denial in spades; denial in hordes; little denials multiplying in the tangled forest of your mind like so many rabbits; you are okay. this is okay; this is going okay and you are okay.
(1) snack-sized Ziplock bag containing five baby carrots
(2) microwave burritos, but the classy ones from Trader Joe’s
(4) frozen Chicken Tikka Masala meals, but the classy ones from Trader Joe’s
(2) cans of green beans
(1) pack of gum
(1) bottle of liquid antiacid
What’s in season: hopelessness; helplessness; a dense, writhing fog no lighthouse beacon can pierce.
(6) boxes of Mac and Cheese, if we’re really being honest with ourselves
(2) wilted leaves lettuce, for garnish
(1) carton Camel Crush cigarettes.
What’s in season: trying again; cucumbers.
(8) lemons, chopped, submerged in water
(8) cucumbers, chopped, submerged in water
(1) bag ice
(4) individual servings of no-sodium cabbage soup
What’s in season: remembering why you stopped trying; and cucumbers, still, but you have chosen not to partake.
(1) $200 voucher to takeout delivery service of choice
What’s in season: musk melon; cantaloupe; the sweet release of the void.
(4) Pairs of Foil-Wrapped Cinnamon Pop Tarts
(4) Pairs of Foil-Wrapped Wild Berry Pop Tarts
(4) Pairs of Foil-Wrapped Pumpkin Pop Tarts, preserved from the fall harvest
(1) sprig of store-brand beef jerky
(1) pair of panty hose, why not, just throw those in there
What’s in season: nothing.
(1) 750ML bottle of Burnett’s Sweet Tea Vodka
(∞) implacable sorrow
This CSA is designed with the busy-yet-environmentally-conscious customer in mind, as it is based on some things that are seasonal (summer, sun, outdoor activity) and some things which are timeless (loneliness, depravity, the endless cycle of attempt and failure.)
It will cost $400 per season.