Urban Foraging…Simple Island Style

The following is a guest post from Kris at Simple Island Living. She blogs about living frugally and simply in one of the most expensive places in the country!

We are hipsters. Not really, but we subscribe to trends like the next hipster, and one of the most important ones is a commitment to living and eating green and organic. Needless to say, that commitment is expensive and not something we can do all the time – but we try. Even more, we know that living on an island in the middle of the sea, it is absolutely imperative to buy and support local as much as possible. From where we are, food has to be shipped over the ocean in order for us to consume it. It is not a sustainable lifestyle, and therefore we try as hard as possible to maximize our consumption of local food.

urban foraging

That being said, we are huge fans of CSA boxes. CSA boxes, or community supported agriculture boxes, are some of the best ways to get a weekly injection of local produce. For a foodie, it is wonderful to get different types of produce every week – we absolutely love being introduced to new things. I know that to some people, getting strange vegetables and fruit is a turn off, but we love it. I have cooked things I never would have ever thought of cooking…all because I received a vegetable I had never used before in my CSA box.

When we lived in Seattle, we utilized the SPUD biweekly delivery and loved it. Absolutely loved it. The amount of fruits and vegetables that they had in their basic boxes was so much more than we needed that I registered for a juicer for our wedding. Seriously.

When we moved to Hawaii, we’ve tried to find the perfect CSA box fit. For a while we went with Ma’o Farms. While we loved it, it became a bit cost prohibitive. That’s the thing about eating all organic – it gets pricy.

One of the best ways to try the boxes, I’ve realized, is Groupon or Living Social. I say this because not all boxes are great. As much as we’d love to support all local companies, not all local companies are well run or have the best produce. It’s the same as with any company – you have to find the perfect fit.

For this reason, I still love to frequent the local Farmer’s Market. There, you see what you’re getting and you know when you buy it from the farmer. This type of personal interaction, the quality of produce, and the general ambiance makes the urban foraging that much better an experience.

apple bananas: smaller and sweeter than normal varieties

hayden mangos, a local variety that is the sweetest, juiciest mango I've ever tasted

sweet fresh pineapple from the north shore of oahu

Unfortunately, like I said before, not all CSA boxes are perfect. In fact, many are very imperfect, and it takes a while to find one that matches you – even more so to find one that has contents that are up to your individual standards. For the purpose of this article, I had depended on a new CSA box that was sadly not up to par. Luckily, my in-laws had picked up two local avocados at a charity event this past weekend that were at peak perfection. With it, I made the fastest and easiest guacamole (utilizing the leftover chips from Super Bowl), and made the most unhealthy of healthy dinners possible. It helps that my husband used to make guacamole table side at a place he waited tables at years ago and provided me with tips on proper guacamole making service. Very important. 🙂

In choosing a CSA box:

1. Check out Yelp. If I had checked out Yelp before trying some boxes, I would have saved myself a lot of hassle.

2. If you have a Farmer’s Market, ask your favorite vendor if they do boxes. Many do.

3. Try to stay organic, but remember that organic farming is extremely expensive for the farmer. For that reason, feel free to ask non-organic farmers if they use pesticides. You’ll be surprised to find out that many use minimal ones or natural ones, but are prohibited by cost to certify their farm organic.

4. Local is better…always.


smashing avocado

Simple Island Guacamole

1 Lg. Avocado, Ripe

1/4C Finely Diced Onion

1 Tsp. Garlic Salt

1/2 Tsp. Coriander powder (or use fresh cilantro if you have…unfortunately I was out)

1 Tsp. Crushed red peppers

1/8C Lemon juice

Mash avocado, mix with onion. Sprinkle dry ingredients on and pour lemon juice on (according to my husband, it’s imperative to distribute the dry ingredients with the lemon juice.) and mix until combined. The fastest, easiest guacamole ever.


Editor’s Note: We are so grateful to Kris for providing a glimpse into eating locally in different parts of the country. We whole-heartedly believe that eating local, seasonal produce is the way to live which is why we provide weekly seasonal, frugal and healthy meal plans via e-mail. Check out how it works and get a free sample plan.

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12 Responses to “Urban Foraging…Simple Island Style”

  1. Kari says:

    YUM! Fresh guac is one of my favorite foods. Eric and I have tried several CSA deliveries and I completely agree with your tips about Groupon (it’s an easy way and cheap way to see if the CSA works for you). We really wanted one of them to “work” for us, but the cost combined with the inflexibility of the plans we bought didn’t really suit us. Now we end up purchasing from a local market, but it ends up being slightly cheaper for us because we only buy what we need and don’t end up throwing away the fruits/veggies we don’t eat. But, with that being said, if we find another CSA deal on Groupon we’d give it a go again.

  2. Great tip about getting close to organic food by just asking farmers what pesticides they use. I need to try this guacamole.

    • Andi B. says:

      That’s my favorite tip too. I spoke with one farmer who refused to get the organic certification because he found it unethical to refuse medications to his animals when they were sick. I couldn’t argue with him, and I knew he cared a lot about his farm.

  3. We belong to a CSA that we use every summer. I love it. The food is amazing and I love how I get to know the farmer. Plus it is organic which is awesome. Between this and our garden, we do really well.

  4. I would like to join a CSA this summer, but I am reluctant to commit for the whole season when I am not familiar with their boxes. I have been using Yelp.com to help me weed out CSAs that might not be a good fit. Thanks for the info and the guacamole recipe. I have two avocados on my counter that I need to use. . .

  5. Yum! Made this tonight with dinner and it was delicious!

  6. […] CSA Boxes at Meal Plan Rescue. Community supported agriculture boxes are something that I would like to utilize more (it doesn’t help that I am on the road all the time) and this article gives a few good tips. First, it’s upfront stating that not all CSA boxes are well put together and so it can take some time to find a company that is right for you. Their suggestion is to utilize Groupon or Living Social deals in your area until you find one that you like. […]

  7. […] with Debt  to check it out.  Then, if you missed my first guest blog post (!!), hit up Andi at Meal Plan Rescue to find my tips to find a good CSA […]

  8. Love fresh guacamole. Nothing better! We have been a part of local fruit/veggie coops, but they were not as consistent in their quality as we would have liked.

    • Andi B. says:

      There’s a great group in Portland called Organics to You. They are the most consistent I’ve found when it came to quality, and the ease of use couldn’t be beat. We could get boxes of produce every other week so we weren’t throwing out food. I really should sign up again.

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