Your guide to spring and summer produce
Ready for local fruits and veggies? We have the lowdown on fresh produce in Tennessee.
When browsing through the supermarket produce department, it can be easy to forget that food has seasons. If you’re one who finds your weekly produce at the local farmers market, it can be a little easier to remember.
Figuring out when food is at its prime can mean better-tasting meals or snacks for you and your family. Thankfully, Pick Tennessee Products — part of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture — has a helpful guide that shows what’s in season and when.
Tammy Algood, marketing specialist at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, says to remember that availability and harvest schedules for produce in our state are subject to Mother Nature, so use them as a guide and not an absolute.
She says some of the benefits of picking produce based on seasonality includes lower costs and better taste.
“It goes back to the classic ‘supply and demand’ issue. When items are available locally, you don’t have to pay the extra cost of shipping to get that produce from another region of the country, or perhaps another country altogether, to your area. So when produce is grown and harvested locally, you’ve got increased supplies and more unique varieties available. In addition, you know where it was grown, you know who grew it, you can easily go back for more, and you are investing in your neighbors,” she says.
As for advice on how to enjoy the seasonal food found at local farms and farmers markets, Algood says she likes to consume the produce as close to raw as possible to take advantage of the full flavor and nutrients.
“Plus, I don’t want to heat up my kitchen by turning on the stove or oven,” she says. “So most of my produce is simply given a quick rinse of cold water, then enjoyed. This is great for all fruit, lettuces, spring onions, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, early peas, etc.”
If consuming raw isn’t an option, Algood grills or roasts the items, then seasons them with fresh herbs.
“Don’t be afraid to mix and mingle various herbs to find the combinations you like,” she says. “In addition, regularly cutting your herbs will invigorate the plant and encourage growth.”
As the weather heats up, don’t forget to stay hydrated. Check out these 10 fresh foods that can help keep you hydrated all summer.