We've now had three weeks of CSA bag pick-ups. As a result we've had an abundant supply of spinach and salad greens (especially when combined with what we’ve harvested from our own garden). We've also received some fresh mushrooms, carrots, a few bok choys, green onions and a dozen eggs from truly free-range chickens. Last week I was pleasantly surprised with the addition of French breakfast radishes (my favorite kind of radish) and…and…oh, wait. I wanted to say asparagus, but that would be lying.
Two years ago we participated in the same CSA veggie bag subscription. Asparagus season lasts for a little less than two months in these parts and I know last time we were the happy receivers of asparagus on several occasions. This time, however, things are different.
Bag pick-up times are from 4:30pm to 5:30pm on Fridays – at least, that’s what the official subscription information page says. The latest I've arrived at the co-op to pick up my bag? 4:38pm. Each week asparagus is listed on the board when I arrive, but has a line through it, implying that it was available but all of it has already been taken. When another politely disgruntled CSA subscriber voiced his disappointment last Friday at yet again not receiving any asparagus the well-meaning check-out clerk said, “Oh, yes. It’s very popular. You have to get here at 4:00pm to get asparagus in your bag!”
Pick-up time begins at 4:30pm. They’re letting other folks pick up their bags earlier than that? But that’s against the rules!
This, my friends, is a good point to talk about how (in general) I am a rule follower.
Rules are rules and are there for a reason. And typically, I follow the rules. This is evidence by my strong academic career, solid employment history and completely clean driving record (knock on wood). I honor the system and follow the system and usually do not take short cuts. Granted, I have a few examples in my past of rule bending (I had an amazingly thorough "wet floor" sign collection in college), but by and by I typically follow the rules.
After all, how could one follow the rationing program and NOT follow the rules? The rationing systems requires a certain inherited sense of duty and respect for the rules...a respect I often suspect would not be available if rationing was imposed in the U.S. today. I mean, you have to follow the rules to pick up the right ration book at the right time, use the correct stamps during the correct period, and follow obligatory point values which are out of your control.
Granted, there were black markets in the 1940s, but imagine how much more complex the black markets would be today with Craig's List, Facebook and the like!
But I'm a rule follower, and so I woke up early on Saturday to get to the farmer's market in time to assure that I could buy asparagus. I bought a nice looking bunch from an elderly gentleman for $3.00 while I groused a bit under my breath about missing the asparagus in my CSA bag again.
We had the asparagus that night with dinner and it was everything asparagus should be: local, crisp yet tender, earthy and flavorful. I have to admit it was worth the $3.00.
So I need to stop my complaining and accept that part of the "eating locally" approach means that there's not always enough for everyone. And sometimes, people will play the system to get theirs.
I think that's a good life lesson, too. Be happy with what you get.
That being said, I'm considering using some of our gasoline rations this weekend to drive almost an hour to harvest local strawberries. The stores have been flooded with strawberries from Mexico and I drool a little bit every time I pass the displays in the produce section, unable to purchase them because of the rationing program (damn me and my rule following).
Maybe if I can get to the strawberry patch early enough they'll have some left.
And I'll be sure to leave some for the next family.