It’s a simple and obvious process for most of us to eat seasonal, local produce in the summer. We grow gardens and shop the farmer’s markets, knowing that we are getting the most nutritious food at the best prices for the year. Even in the grocery stores, the best prices for local produce will be found in those summer months. That’s always been my firm belief and I live for summer and those deliciously, juicy tomatoes; crisp, crunchy cucumbers and fresh lettuce. It has never occurred to me, until recently, that with the growing season across the United States being vastly different from coast to coast, there is probably something “in season” all year round. Although, not all these products would be considered “local”, their prices will be better and their nutrition at it’s peak, in the seasons when they are shipped to our local grocery stores, most plentifully.
What I discovered is that there are seasonal produce foods available year-round. Some are familiar and some, not so much, but what they all have in common is freshness and a lower price than off season fruits and veggies. We can continue to be good stewards of all we’ve been given, while providing nutritious and tasty meals on a budget and leaving more in the budget for giving. Some things won’t be surprising at all, as we are used to seeing them year-round, but others might mean trying something new. I know in many cases, it will mean exactly that for our family, but I am intrigued by this potential money-saver and am always up for “shaking up” the usual menus. So, where do we start? What’s actually in season during the different months of the year?
There are many projects, habits, and ideas I plan to be more intentional about in 2011. Saving money so we have more to give is always at the top of the list, but I also hope to incorporate some fruits or vegetables that may be new to our family into the menu planning. If that’s something that interests you, too, I hope you will find this list I have compiled, helpful in your quest. Without a doubt, your location can certainly affect availability of specific seasonal items, but as a general rule of thumb, these are items my research has shown should be easier to find, and easier on your pocketbook, at your local grocery store from month to month.
To do your own research and learn even more on this subject, plus garner some tasty recipes, check out Simply in Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook) and Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. Both are loaded with recipes and can teach you more about cooking with seasonal products. I own Simply in Season and Cooking Close to Home is on my “wish list”.
January – citrus fruits, apples, pears, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks and parsnips
February – citrus fruits, broccoli, kale, leeks and cauliflower
March – mangoes, pineapple, broccoli, leeks and lettuce
April – limes, mangoes, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, fava beans, horseradish, lettuce, rhubarb, peas, sweet onions, zucchini
May – apricot, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, radishes, spinach, cherries, lettuce, okra, pineapple, rhubarb, spring peas, zucchini
June – apricots, asparagus, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, lettuce, peas, peaches, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, watermelon
July – apricots, beans, beets, blueberries, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, egg plant, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, onions, peaches, peppers, plums, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon
August – apricots, beans, beets, blueberries, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, egg plant, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, onions, peaches, peppers, plums, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon
September – apples, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, summer squash, eggplant, lettuce, onions, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, winter squash, tomatoes, turnips, melons, pumpkins
October – apples, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cranberries, beans, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, grapes, onions, pomegranate, potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potato, winter squash, turnips
November – apples, broccoli, cranberries, mushrooms, oranges, pears, persimmon, pomegranate, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, winter squash
December – broccoli, brussel sprouts, cranberries, cauliflower, dates, grapefruit, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, papayas, pears, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, tangelos and tangerines