Less Money, More Flavor: What Produce to Buy & When

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There are countless advantages to being a “locovore”, or someone who prioritizes fresh, local produce. Purchasing foods at their peak allows you to get more bang for your buck, as you end up with deliciously bright tasting fruits and vegetables that required less petroleum and fewer dollars to get to your table. If you’ve experienced tomatoes, berries, or other produce within just a few hours of being picked, you know in-season produce is at a whole ‘nother level.

woman holding radishes at the farmers market more flavor, less money what produce to buy and when

Buying seasonal produce has the added advantage of directly supporting your local economy and farmers with the money you do spend.

If you live in the country or on a farm yourself, which items are in season when is likely obvious. But for the rest of us, opportunities to purchase ideal produce can easily slip past unnoticed.

How do I know if something is in-season?

You might notice price drops or bulk sales at your local grocery store or co-op. In-season produce also appears particularly fresh, though that characteristic may be a bit harder to gauge at times. Alternatively, anything you can find at a farmers’ market is in season.

The Best Produce in Each Season

Seasonality is, of course, dependent on location and growing season. So if you’re interesting in state-specific or produce-specific picks, check out https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/. Below is a more widely applicable, nation-wide, generalized list. Produce frequently crosses state borders, so the seasonality of other states likely matters to you too (ex. if you live in Minnesota, California’s citrus season will still impact the quality of citrus in your grocery stores).

August

tomato eggplant pepper zucchini cucumber august in season produce

Acorn squash, apples, apricots, blueberries, butternut squash, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, kiwi, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangoes, okra, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, and zucchini.

September

apple orchard september in season produce

Acorn squash, apples, beets, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, figs, grapes, green beans, lettuce, mangoes, mushrooms, okra, peppers, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and tomatoes.

October

squash pumpkins corn and apples in wooden boxes at market october in season produce

Acorn squash, apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, grapes, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips, and winter squash.

November

cranberries november in season produce

Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, parsnips, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, turnips, and winter squash.

December

broccoli in the field december in season produce

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, papayas, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tangelos, tangerines, and turnips.

January

grapefruit oranges pomegranate january in season produce

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, tangelos, tangerines, and turnips in this deep winter month.

February

brussel sprouts february in season produce

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, tangelos, and turnips.

March

mushrooms march in season produce

Artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, pineapples, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.

April

asparagus april in season produce

Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, pineapples, radishes, rhubarb, and spring peas.

May

rhubarb bunches on tablecloth may in season produce

Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, cherries, lettuce, mangoes, okra, pineapples, radishes, rhubarb, spring peas, strawberries, Swiss chard, and zucchini.

June

rows of butter lettuce in the field june in season produce

Apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, Swiss chard, watermelon, and zucchini.

July

blueberries blackberries strawberries yellow tomatoes in boxes july in season produce

Apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, green beans, kiwi, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangoes, okra, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.

Beyond looking out for in-season produce at your go-to grocery store, other ways to get low-cost high-nutrition produce items include…

  • Start a garden of your own, even a window box with fresh herbs can add some spunk to your usual dishes!
  • Keep an eye out for small stands along country roads.
  • Look for local farmers’ markets (it’s as easy as an online search or spying a locally posted sign).
  • Team up with friends/family to buy in bulk, as many markets offer bulk discounts.
  • Consider buying a share at a community garden or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.
  • Pick your own berries, apples, etc at local farms or orchards (or buy them pre-picked!).

With a bit of awareness about which fruits and vegetables are in season and some ideas about local places to look for them, you’re well on your way to experiencing stunningly nutritious, delicious dishes. Have any simple fresh produce recipes you’d like to share? Drop them in the comments below!

[The Only 8 Words You Need to Eat Healthy]

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