Eighty-six percent of shoppers believe in the importance of seasonality, but only five percent of those polled know when blackberries are ripe for eating. Are they to blame? Knowing what produce is in season is hard. If all you have to go by is what’s in the supermarket, seasonality may seem like a myth. When you try looking up charts of what’s in season, you find extremely complicated wheels that are only accurate for certain climates. So, how can we make this simpler? By cheating.
We’re going to give you easy to remember guidelines to get you started. First, let’s break it down into the four main categories: spring, summer, fall and winter. Next, let’s use some common sense.
Main color: GREEN
A new year brings new growth. Seeds planted in late winter start to come up in the spring. This new growth becomes what’s in season: spring peas, ramps, asparagus etc. Have you heard of spring onions? The name is no coincidence; these are literally just young onions that are harvested in the spring before the bulb has had a chance to swell.
Main colors: RED, YELLOW
As the summer rolls in with its hot temperatures, things are looking pretty good in the fields! As with a hot day in the city, just about everyone crawls out of their hiding place and soaks up as much sun as they can get. Because of this, summer brings out all of those juicy, colorful fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, berries and bell peppers. Things that hit peak ripeness and then rot quickly are generally in season in the summer.
Main colors: ORANGE, DARK GREEN
By the time fall comes, the growing season has had a long time to mature. The produce that will survive as the temperatures drop tends to be heartier and denser. Beautiful dark greens and deep orange colors take over the fields, as squash, kale and apples come into play.
Main colors: WHITE, PURPLE, GREEN
While some heartier greens like spinach and kale may grow in greenhouses, not much actually grows in the winter. When we talk about “winter produce”, what we’re mostly talking about are vegetables and fruits that store well. Just as humans have to layer up in the winter, produce with a thicker skin does better in storage. Onions, squash, cabbage and carrots can be stored for months in cool, dry places to grace our tables with some color over the gluttonous holiday season.
WHY SHOULD I EAT SEASONALLY?
Leaving the importance of supporting your local community aside, eating seasonal produce is not only good for your wallet, but also for your health and your taste buds. If farmers have to sell all of their asparagus before the season is over and the produce is past its peak, they will lower their price to help make that product move. Seasonal produce has a lot more flavor and more nutrients for two reasons. The first is that being in season means being at maximum ripeness. The second is that produce out of season comes from far away locations and is often grown with the intention of shipping well rather than tasting good.