As the weather warms, leafy greens, tropical fruits and corn-on-the-cob all start to make it to our plates. For those in cooler regions, apricots, basil, figs and berries are all ready for harvest. Those in warmer states, however, might find an abundance of melons, peppers and avocados.
While we don’t necessarily believe fresh is always better than frozen, it has its perks. If you’re looking for reasons to shop local, just know:
- You’re supporting local farms and businesses.
- Local produce is more sustainable than sourcing from abroad.
- In-season produce is often less expensive (and more accessible).
That said, it’s not always easy to figure out what’s in season in your region. Below is a basic guide to the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that you can find in most of the United States between June and September:
Avocados – Generally available from April through August, this tropical fruit (yes, fruit) is full of fiber, potassium and many other beneficial nutrients.
Cucumbers – Just in time for salad season, cucumbers can be found in most states from May through August. Toss them in a salad or make a summer project out of it and leave them in a jar to pickle.
Rhubarb – Starting in late spring, you can find this tart perennial in most markets throughout the U.S. If you’re looking to enjoy rhubarb pie after July, however, consider storing some in the freezer.
Zucchini – June through late August is peak season for this summer squash. High in both potassium and antioxidants, zucchini can contribute to better digestion and improve heart health.
Corn – Did you know that 40 percent of the world’s corn is grown in the U.S.? With peak dates from May through September, this crop is grown in nearly every state and can be found at most farmers markets.
Plums – While they can be found from May through October, your best bet for local plums is July and August. They also tend to travel better than most fruits, so don’t fret if you have to source them from out of state.
Berries – Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all ready to be picked from May through September, with a slight variance depending on your climate and region.
Peaches – Summer is prime peach season, which means you can usually find these juicy fruits now through late September. Aside from southern states such as Georgia and Florida, peaches are also harvested in Colorado, Idaho and New Jersey.
Garlic – We don’t often think of garlic because it’s so easy to find year-round, but this flavorful allium is typically harvested from June through August.
Eggplant – Late summer is the name of the game for this hearty veggie. Simply roast them on the grill or bake them with garlic and parmesan for a more decadent snack.
Green Beans – Though found year-round and often associated with many winter dishes, green beans are actually harvested from May through September. Consider adding these crunchy greens to a niçoise salad or sautéing them in a skillet with some fresh garlic.
Bell Peppers – Though it’s fairly easy to source bell peppers year-round, you’re going to want to be on the lookout from July through October if you want to shop local.
Tomatoes – Summer is the prime growing season for tomatoes, with some slight variations depending on your region. While they don’t peak in the Pacific Northwest until August, you can find them as early as June in warmer climates.
Melons – Just in time for fruit salad season, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon are all available in the northern hemisphere from now through October.
Okra – Okra is generally planted in late spring after the last frost and can be harvested as early as June. While it’s most popular in the South, it can generally be found in any climate where corn and tomato crops are grown.
Carrots – You should be able to get these sweet root veggies all summer at most farmer’s markets throughout the U.S. Consider tossing them in a salad or roasting them on the grill.
Cherries – Fresh, local cherries can be found in most states starting in June, with harvest generally extending through the end of August.
Basil – If you’re hoping to buy local herbs, summer is the ideal growing season for basil. Whip up some fresh pesto or add it as garnish to a caprese salad.
While this list is a great place to start, it’s by no means exhaustive. Produce varies greatly depending on your region, which is why it’s worth checking out the Seasonal Food Guide to find out what’s in season in your state.