What’s in Season? A Look at Summer Fruits & Veggies
What better way to celebrate summer than by cooling down and putting nature’s gift to the world on your plate? Seasonal fruits and vegetables provide your body with an abundance of benefits, supply you with energy, and help balance your body’s needs. These powerful foods protect and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, guard your body from cancer and heart disease, and boost your immune system’s defenses.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide you with many nutritious advantages. Raw fruits and vegetables are chock-full of vitamins and minerals that keep you functioning at your optimum level. Most fruits and vegetables contain dietary fibers that not only help regulate your system but also lower your vulnerability to diabetes. They also contain antioxidants that are needed to defend your body from everyday exposure to stressors such as pollution, the sun, and poor dietary choices. Best of all, fruits and vegetables naturally detoxify your body and are low in calories!
According to the USDA, your recommended fruit and vegetable consumption depends on your height, weight, and level of physical activity. One easy rule of thumb to follow for serving sizes is that at every meal half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. To consistently make that happen, you should diversify what you eat. Being bored with your options is one way to surely default on eating healthy. Prevent temptation by providing yourself with a variety of colors and flavors to choose from. Remember, eating colorful fires up your taste buds while getting a variety of nutrients.
Harvests are usually separated into three intervals: Early, Mid, and Late Harvest. Many times, farmers slowly phase out their crops and introduce new crops. Therefore, you may see an overlap in the harvest times of certain fruits and vegetables. The summer fruits and vegetable guide shown below is just a guide. Variations in climate may change production of certain fruits and vegetables.
Here’s the bounty to expect this summer:
Fruits: Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupes, Cherries, Lemons, Limes, Nectarines, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Pineapples, Plums, and Strawberries
Vegetables: Asparagus, Cabbage, Cucumber, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Potatoes, and Rhubarb
Fruit: Apples, Blackberries, Cantaloupe, Figs, Papaya, Peaches, Raspberries, Strawberries and Watermelon
Vegetables: Arugula, Beans, Broccoli Carrots, Celery, Eggplant, Garlic, Green Beans, Kale, Okra, Onion, Peppers, Peas, Lettuce, Squash
Fruits: Apples, Berries, Grapes, Figs, Pears, Persimmons, and Watermelon
Vegetables: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Onion, Peppers, Potatoes Pumpkin, Spinach, Squash,
A visit to the local farmers market is a great way to find motivation for trying new summer foods. You will find yourself amongst an assortment of fruits and vegetables that are grown locally, harvested healthily, and are fresh. Don’t be bashful about asking a farmer to share some information about a particular item. They are proud of their crop and want you to enjoy their hard work. They can answer questions about the character of the product, flavors and acidic levels, combinations of tastes, and how to prepare them.
You can also find these items at your local grocery store. Keep in mind that although you may see a product at the store, that doesn’t guarantee that it is in season. Many times, imported foods from other regions or countries are picked before they are ripe, causing the flavors to weaken. Being mindful of harvest seasons prevents you from eating flavorless fruits and vegetables.
Not sure how to pick the ripest fruit or vegetable? Use your senses! Fruits are ripe when they are plump, firm, and have a healthy fragrance. Vegetables are fresh when they are crisp and colorful. All fruits and vegetables taste best when they are picked and consumed at peak harvest season.