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Eating in Season

Eating in season is the key to 
getting the best quality produce
at the lowest prices. 
Here is a guide to
what is in season all year round.

A few days ago, my mother in law stopped by and brought with her some blueberries.  These blueberries were not some average blueberries.  They were large and plump and absolutely delicious, bursting with perfect blueberry flavor.  They tasted just like blueberries should.  I later found out they came from a local farm, not the grocery store.  I am lucky enough to live in a country where I have access to pretty much any produce I desire, year round.  I eat blueberries all year.  However, they only taste this wonderful in the summer, during blueberry season.

I think this is true for most produce.  It tastes best when it is grown naturally, outside, and when the time between harvest and consumption is short.  When produce is grown under artificial lights, in a man-made climate in a greenhouse, or when it is harvested too early and transported across the world to arrive in our supermarkets, quality suffers.  Yes, the produce is there, on the grocery store shelves, ready to buy.  However, it does not taste like it should.  I am not really buying the product I desire.  Moreover, all that artificial growing and harvesting and transport gets expensive.  When fruit and vegetables are consumed when they are in abundant supply, they are much more affordable.

So, the moral is, we should eat produce when it is in season.  But when is produce in season?  Some answers are obvious.  I live in South Jersey, and we are surrounded by farms.  We have lots of locally grown produce in the warmer months.  Strawberries are the first abundant crop of the summer, and are followed by blueberries, corn, peaches, and tomatoes.  In the fall, we have apples and pumpkins and winter squash.  I even know that oranges are in season around Christmas, even though they are not grown locally, as there seems to be an overabundance of them in local supermarkets at that time of year.  But what about other fruits and vegetables, when are they harvested?  I decided to do a bit of research and find out what grows where at which time of year, so that I can make more informed choices when I next go food shopping.

Growing regions:  The United States is a very large country, with a varied climate.  In New Jersey, we have all the seasons, and nothing naturally grows over the winter.  However, while it is cold here, other parts of the nation enjoy warm weather and a very long growing season.  The continental United States can be divided into four sections.

 

West   Midwest
Pacific Mountain   West North Central East North Central

California
Oregon Washington

Arizona
Colorado
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Utah
Wyoming

 

  Iowa
Kansas
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
North Dakota
South Dakota
Illinois
Indiana
Michigan
Ohio
Wisconsin
South   Northeast
South
Central
South Atlantic   Middle
Atlantic
 New England
Alabama
Arkansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
 Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Maryland
North Carolina
South Carolina
Virginia
West Virginia
  New Jersey
New York
Pennsylvania
Connecticut
Maine
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Vermont

 


What grows where and when:  I have dug around and looked at many, many, many local seasonal food guides.  I also discovered an interactive map at epicurious.com.  Here are the harvesting seasons for produce in the West (W), Midwest (M), South (S), and Northeast (N).

 

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Apples W
S
 W
S
W
W
N
W
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
S N
Apricots         W
W M
W
N
W
N
       
Artichokes     W
W
S
W
S N
W
N
M
 
 M
  W
 
   
Arugula   W
 
W
S 
W
S N
W M
S N
 
S N
W
W
 
   
N
 
Asparagus     W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W 
 
         
Avocadoes  W
S
W
S
 W
S
     W
 W

S
 
S
     
Beets   W 
 
W
S
 
 W
S
M
S
W M
S N 
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
S N
W
N
W M
S N
W
S N
Blackberries        
S
 
S
M
S 
W M
S N
W
S
W
N
     
Blueberries      
S

S
M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
N
     
Broccoli  W
S
W
S
W M
S
M
S
M
S N
M
S N
M
S N
M
N
M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
Brussels Sprouts
S

S
 
S
M
S

S

S
  W
S N
W M
N
W M
S N
 
S N
Cabbage  W
S
 W
S
 M
S
W M
S
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
 W
S
W M
S N
W M
N
W M
S N
W
S N
Cantaloupe    
S
 
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
 
S N 
W
S

S
 
Carrots W
S
 W
S
W
S
W
N 
 
N
W M
S N
 W M
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
N
W M
N
W
S N
Cauliflower  W
S

S
W
S
W
S 
W M
S
W M
S N
 
N
M
S N
W M
N
W M
N
W M
S N
M
S N
Celery W
W
S
 
S
 
S
    W
N
  W
N
 
N
M
N
 
S N
Cherries       W
 
W M
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
W
     
Collard Greens W
 
 W
S
W
S
 W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
    M
N
M
N
M
S N
W M
S
Corn      
S 
W
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
M
W 
 
 
Cranberries                 W M
N
W M
N
W
N

N
Cucumbers     W

S
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
 
S
W
S 
 
Eggplant      W
 
S
   M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
   
S
 
Figs         W
W 
 
W
S
W M
S
M
     
Grapefruit W
S
W
S
W
S 
W
S
         
S
W
W
W
S
Grapes           W
W
S
 W M
S
W M
S N
W M
N
W
S
 
Green Beans      
S
 
S
W M
S
W M
S
W M
S
W M
S
M
 
S
 
Kale W
S 
W
S 
 W
S
W
S 
 W
S
W
 
W
 
  W
 
W M
N
 W M
N
W M
N 
Kiwi      W
                 
Kohlrabi  
 W
 M
W M
M
W M
N 
     
N 
 W M
N
M
S 
W
Lettuce  W M
S
W M
S
W M
S 
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
 
S 
 W
S
 W M
N
W
S N
W M
S N
Leeks   W
   
 
W M
 W
W
  W
N
W M
S N
M
N
Lemons W
 
  W
W
          W
W
W
S
Lima Beans              
N
M
S N
M
S N
M
N
   
Mangoes          
S
 
S

S
     
Melons         W
S
W
S
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
W
S

S
 
Mushrooms W
S 
W
S
W
S 
W
S
W
S

S

S

S 
W
S N
W
S N
Nectarines          
S
W M
S
W M
S N
W
N
       
Okra          
S
W M
S 
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S
M
 
S
 
Onions W 
 
W
 W
S
M
S N
W
S N
 W
S
M
S 
M
S
 W
W M
N 
W M
S N
W M
Oranges  
S
W
S 
W
S 
W
S 
       
S 
    W
S 
Parsnips        
N
           
N
 
S N

 
Peaches        
S
W
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
S
W
   
Pears    W
W
W
W
S
W
S
W
M
S N
W M
S N
W M
N
W M
S N
W
N
Peas  
S
  W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
M
S N
W M
S N
M
S
M
M
S
 
Peppers     W
S
   W
S
M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S
 
S
Plums         W
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
N

  
   
Pomegranate                   W
W
 
Potatoes       W
N
W M
S 
W M
S N
W
S
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
N
W M
S N
W M
S N
Pumpkin                 W M
S
W M
N
W M
S N
M
N
Radishes W
S
W
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
N
W M
W
S N
 
N
W
N
 
Raspberries         W
 
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
M
N

S
 
Rhubarb     W
W M
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
N


  
     
Rutabaga                 W 
 
  W
S N
 
S 
Spinach M
S
M
S
W M
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
    W
W
N
W M
S
W M
S
Strawberries      
S
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W
S
M
     
Summer Squash          
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
 
S
 
S
 
Sweet Potatoes
S

S

S

S
 
S
   
S
W M
S
W M
W M
S
M
S
Swiss Chard

 W

W
W
S
W
S
W
S
W M
W M
W
 W
   
S
 
S
Tomatoes       
S
W
W
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S
 
S
 
Tomatillos               W M
W 
 
W
   
Turnips  
S
 
S
M
S
 
S
M
S
M
 
M
 
S
 
S N
 
N
W M
S N
M
S N 
Watermelon      
S
 
S
W M
S N
W M
S N
W M
S N 
M
S
 
S
 
Winter Squash  W
S
W
W
         
S N
W M
N
W M
S N
W M
S N

 

 

Comments  

 
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