The benefits of eating local produce in-season are numerous. The main benefit
of locally-grown produce is it is picked when it is much closer to ripeness,
which means that it has reached the natural end of its growth process.
Fully-ripened fruits and vegetables are more delicious and contain far
more nutrients than produce that is picked weeks before it is ripe. As
an added bonus, locally-grown food tends to be less expensive because
you aren’t paying for transportation costs, and it’s better
for the local economy and global environment. In short, if you can buy
local, you should!
Summer fruits are known for their soft flesh and incredibly sweet flavor.
Many of them also have a wonderful aroma when they’re ripe, so visiting
a farmer’s market in summer can be a little intoxicating (in the
best way). Each fruit has certain characteristics that let you know when
they’re at their best.
The berries that arrive in summer are likely the most popular, plentiful
fruit of the season. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
(among others) are small, sugary, slightly tart, and can be bought in
amounts ranging from “modest snack” to “stomachache-inducing.”
With the exception of blueberries, berries are at their ripest when their
skin is shiny and deeply-colored. They should also have a perfume that
echoes their flavor—a strong aroma is an indicator of how good it
Plums and Peaches
Fruits of this variety are at their best when they’re slightly soft
with only a little resistance. Make sure there’s no green coloring
anywhere on the fruit, as this indicates it was picked too early. The
color you’re looking for is an even, deep yellow in the background
color, between the red spots. Another good indicator of ripeness is the
crease, which should be deep and well-marked.
Melons are a summer staple. The key to buying a good, ripe melon is its
heaviness. If it feels heavy for its size, it’s likely to have a
great deal of juicy, flavorful fruit under the rind. The other key to
a good melon is its smell. If it smells like a melon, it will taste rich
and juicy, with a soft, slightly grainy texture. The only exception to
this is watermelon, whose sweetness is often undetectable by smelling it.
Figs and Cherries
These two fruits are grouped together due to their limited availability.
Figs are often unavailable because they are so delicate that they cannot
be transported very far before they are destroyed. California, fortunately,
has the climate that’s perfect for these honey-flavored fruits.
A good fig will often have a strong aroma, and will be
very soft to the touch. Regarding cherries, their season is very short, but
when they are in season, they are tart and sugary with shiny and deep-red skin.
Summer vegetables are often also sweet, and the warm weather often brings
out the brightest, softest colors and textures. This group of vegetables
includes grains like corn, cylindrical vegetables like cucumbers, and
bean-type veggies like fava beans and string beans.
Good corn is fully-grown, so you should be able to see kernels at the very
top of an ear of corn. They should be slightly soft, and the ear silk
should be soft as well with some moisture in it. It is best to eat these
sooner rather than later so that the sugars don’t begin to convert
to starch. The longer you wait, the more quickly the corn loses its sweetness.
Cucumbers are at their absolute best in summer, which is perfect for their
cool temperature and refreshing taste. The phrase “cool as a cucumber”
is a literal truism—cucumbers are often up to 20 degrees less warm
than outside temperatures. Cucumbers should be a deep green and still
be firm to the touch.
Good beans are firm, and they should contain sizable beans along the whole
length of the pod. Young beans (which are smaller) may be slightly sweeter
and require less peeling, but larger beans provide more servings. There
should be no dark or soft spots on the pods, but white streaks are normal.
Summer produce is plentiful and rewarding, and the food is a great reminder
of why our ancestors celebrated summer every year. Let your grocery shopping
be a celebration of the season as well—buy local and seasonal food
to enjoy their best taste and health benefits.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.