Veggies by Air Mail

Oh my, it’s been an age since I did a post about food! Fall always has me thinking culinary thoughts. I get back in my kitchen, ready to try new things. Harvest might not happen up here, but the timing is in my blood, and I have to get cookin’.

This year, I have some extra inspiration. I never thought I’d be able to say this again, but we signed up for a CSA this year! A farm in Ottawa is piloting a program to send farm shares by cargo up to Iqaluit, and we signed up.

This is week 4, the haul that just arrived. It’s pretty representative, and I’m very satisfied with the proportions of different kinds of veg.

The challenge – and fun – of a CSA is trying to find uses for this box of surprises while it’s still good. In the process, hopefully you try new things and discover new successes. For example, I don’t love beets myself, but I discovered my husband loves them, and my Instant Pot handles them admirably.

There was at one point a backup of these fine little carrots. I needed to buy some time, so I borrowed some jars and lacto-fermented them. I chose that method because I am lazy – I just scrubbed the things, and there’s literally nothing in these jars except carrots, dill, water, and salt. Ten days later, they are DELICIOUS. Crisp-tender and just like dill pickles. My spouse is eating them like candy.

Hm, what else can I show you? I don’t know what to make with beets, and I can’t make them all into chocolate cake. But (again, my husband found the recipe), there’s an Indian beetroot salad that’s pretty simple. We discovered that beets and Thai chili sauce go together in pretty much any context.

From last week. For the most part, we’re keeping it simple. We like our green beans cooked straightforwardly, and a wealth of basic garden salad is a huge treat. I have a weekly scramble to keep up with the herbs and green onions, but other than that we’re dispatching of everything successfully.

What makes it different getting a CSA in the Arctic?

Well, it comes to us by a three hour plane ride. That’s the main thing. I’ll probably never see the farm where these were grown, although the farmer is awesomely responsive by email. Some items get a little beat up by cargo, though the loss has been minimal, and it’s probably worth it for how little plastic the farmer gets away with using in the packaging. And he’s done his best to create as much scale as he can in the way it’s getting transported up. It’s still expensive, but looking at these piles of veggies, I think it compares pretty well to the stores up here. I’d be curious to do a price comparison, though the freshness of the items does count for a lot.

Dilly cucumber salad dressing. Gotta find more uses for dill…

We are supporting a legit small farm, and opening up any access for more fresh food to come North is to our mind a good thing. I don’t know that we’d do it again (it’s just time- and energy-consuming, and we don’t have a surplus of those right now), but for the benefit of the community at large, I wish this farmer a lot of success, and I’m very thankful for the folks at the Food Centre who are helping make it easy for us.

9 thoughts on “Veggies by Air Mail

  1. Farm CSA to Iqaluit — that’s brilliant. I remember seeing the produce prices in Rankin & they nearly gave me a heart attack! I suppose almost everything on that line has to be flown in. Do people have any success with greenhouses?


    1. Yes, everything fresh is flown up, full stop. There are community greenhouses in several northern communities, including ours, but I haven’t gotten involved so I know very little about cost/water/effort:benefit therein.


  2. Here’s our favorite beet recipe… boil them with peel on. Let cool and peel, slice into rounds, or whatever, add some green onions and toss with Italian salad dressing. Serve cold. Also my son makes beet pesto pizza ( which everyone says is delicious) , I can send you the recipe if you want it. Have fun.


  3. How cool! We often have to get creative with our fresh produce here in PNG, but fortunately it’s plentiful, so trial and error is pretty forgivable. I don’t have any good suggestions for beets – good luck! But I often grind up carrots with a cheese grater and add them to almost every dish: pastas, stir fry, roast veggies, smoothies. Maybe not elegant, but nutritious and effective!


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