It’s that time of year again! Many of us will be spending our summer weekends browsing the various stands at our local farmers market, tasting baked goods and inspecting this season’s fruits and vegetables. The farmers market has had a long-standing history of bringing farm-grown produce, picked at the peak of perfection, to our neighborhoods. Personally speaking, I love using fresh ingredients in my recipes, but I also love the taste of fruits and vegetables when they are in season. You may have heard of the term “in season” when used to describe fruits and vegetables, but you might wonder what does it mean? Some produce that are available year-round still have a seasonality to them. So, let’s talk about what the term “in season” means and what produce are in season for the summer.
All fruits and vegetables have a natural cycle of growth. During this time, they become ripe in a certain season during the course of the year. When produce ripen in their natural season, they not only taste better because their flavors have fully developed, but they are less expensive to purchase. You might say, I can get strawberries year-round so they are always in season. Well that would be an incorrect assumption. Certain produce like strawberries are available year-round, but only because they are either being flown in from other countries with warmer climates, being grown in greenhouses, or are being picked before they have had a chance to ripen. Strawberries are naturally in season during the summer, which is why you may notice that you may often pay less for them in the summer and more for them during the fall, winter, and spring. Ripe fruits and vegetables also have a brighter color to them, giving away ripen status. Seasonal produce also hold more nutrients in them because they have had time to mature. The more nutrients in your food, the more your body has a chance to absorb the fuel it needs to build a healthy immune system.
Another thought you may have is why should you purchase your produce at the farmers market instead of at the grocery store? It is true, our local grocery store may be more convenient, but it lacks a few things in comparison to a farmers market. First, grocery stores have their fruits and vegetables delivered to them. They often travel in refrigerated trucks and come from distances that are sometimes thousands of miles away. By the time they have reached the grocery store shelves, they have been sitting out for days prior, losing freshness. Secondly, farmers who sale their products are farmers markets don’t use chemicals on their products and use organic methods when growing on the farm. Lastly, farmers markets offer more of a variety of fruits and vegetables compared to the grocery store. I remember last year at the farmers market, I bought some yellow tomatoes and made a yellow tomato bisque that was absolutely divine. I can tell you, I’ve never seen yellow tomatoes in the grocery store. Farmers markets give consumers a chance to purchase local foods while allowing farmers to provide communities with an alternative to mass-produced food products.
So, now that you know what “in season” means and why you should eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, you’re ready to start shopping for the best products for your family. According to the USDA, here is a list of all of the fruits and vegetables that are in season for the summer: