It was quite fun getting our farm boxes every week, but SURF is almost over and people are going home, so Friday will be the last day in a while that we will be getting ourfresh produce delivery. As a memoir, I’m going to dedicate this post to Farm Fresh to You! I’ll spam photos of the farm box we got over the summer, then talk about our experience with the service.
(Note: There’s no photos of the 7/5 box because I was at Anime Expo and I accidentally forgot to take photos of the 7/19 box, but everything else is here. Also note that some of these bundles may have more/less food than others because we sometimes swapped for a bigger/smaller box due to having other food plans.)
And now, time for information dump! Food QuantityYou can sort of estimate how large the food items are from the yardstick in each photo, but, for anyone who cares, a regular-sized box has enough food so 3 people (my two roommates and I) can eat dinner every day of the week with some leftovers.
However, do note that our dinners are not purely produce–usually we have some rice or pasta if we’re stir-frying the vegetables, and we do go out and buy random food (such as cheese or tofu) every now and then. We also eat eggs pretty constantly for easy protein. Also note that the three of us are not very large or muscular and thus don’t need very many calories to survive. Food QualityFood quality is usually really good. At the very least, they match the quality of what you can pick out at a supermarket–the none of the produce is ever wilted or bruised. Although the fruits sometimes can be smaller than what you can get at
non-organic sections of the supermarket, that’s to be expected from a
organic family farm. Most of the things are decently/”normal” sized. (I say that the quality is “usually” and not “always” because we got a strange
unripe canteloupe once. It was strange because it smelled ripe, but when
we opened it, it wasn’t ripe yet…)
Taste wise, the food is amazing. I once thought I dislike tomatoes, but it turned out that I just dislike supermarket tomatoes–the tomatoes from the farm box are amazing. They’re not overly sharp and strongly tomatoey or tasteless and mealy like the supermarket ones tend to be–instead, they have a sweet and complex umami flavor. Their oranges are also really, really good, as are their pluots. Final verdict is 11/10, would definitely do again.
StorageMost of the food stores really well–there’s some week-old romaine lettuce sitting in our fridge and it’s still looking fine. The fruits vary in ripeness and keep for various times–the grapes and stone fruits (fleshy fruit with a large pit type of seed inside such as plums) last forever in the fridge, although we usually eat everything by the end of the week so it doesn’t really matter anyway. The only thing of concern was the tomatoes, which are so ripe that we had trouble handling them at first, since they started growing mold a lot faster than expected.
VarietyBecause someone was worrying that all they’re going to get in their box in the winter would be potatoes, here’s a nice chart of what fruits and vegetables can be produced each season. The mild Californian winter means that a lot of different vegetables can thrive despite the season. In fact, summer’s probably the worst season for leafy greens, which wilt under the sun’s intense heat. The farm box service also tries to put a variety of edibles in the box, so we’ve constantly been getting leafy greens (in the form of assorted lettuce) even though they’re not really in season.
Sometimes the farms run out of a certain produce sooner than expected. In this case, the farm doesn’t just give you a smaller box – they will replace whatever produce they ran out with another produce of approximately the equal size and amount. For example, we’re supposed to get some tomatoes this week, but the farm ran out and we got avocados instead. There was also once when they ran out of apples, so we got 3 oranges instead of 3 apples.
For People with Allergies and Really Picky EatersWhile it’s not possible to pick which produce you want each week (since what’s produced depends on the seasons and the weather), it is possible to pick which produce you* don’t* want. Once you sign up, you can go to your account page and choose which foods you don’t want to receive in your box.
If the farm box for the week is planned to have a food on your exclusion list, the farmers will swap out your excluded item for another thing of equal value like how they replace foods that run out early. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting produce you’re allergic to.
Price**Roommate N did some calculations and estimated that our farm box produce is approximately 1.35 times more expensive than non-organic store-bought produce, which is entirely reasonable given that 1) the produce is delivered right to our doorsteps, 2) it’s organic, and 3) it’s from local, small farms that practice sustainable agriculture.
At $31.5 per regular-sized box, Roommate N, Roommate S, and I are able to have fresh produce for dinner every day without ever needing to buy more produce. That’s $1.50 per person per meal. Obviously, you have to account for the cost of protein, fat, carbohyrdates, and spices, but rice and oil is cheap in bulk and spices don’t get used up that fast. The only thing that significantly adds to the price of the food would be the protein source, but even with that in mind, our meals generally cost around $3 per person. I think this is pretty reasonable, especially since eating outside will usually cost you a lot more.
(Of course, you could dirt cheap with the “rice and lentils and frozen vegetables only” route some have decided to go down…) All in all, I’m quite satisfied with their service. It’s also pretty
nice because there’s no cancellation fee or other obnoxious things, so
you’re not obligated to keep on buying boxes from them. I only have to click a few buttons to pause the delivery for the next few weeks because everybody’s going back home.
Also, I got an email from them saying that I’m invited to go on a free farm tour! I’ll get to see the farm and meet the people that grow the food I’m eating! Sadly, the farm was too far away and hard to get to with only public transportation + walking… I’ll just satisfy myself with my green onion farm instead…
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.