This summer I went out to California to help my daughter-in-law with my grandchildren after minor surgery. While I was visiting, one of her friends stopped by with a basket of fresh vegetables straight from her garden. She brought tomatoes, zucchini, basil, onions, lettuce, carrots, green beans and potatoes. What a kind gift and a blessing for healing. My grand daughter and I made a pretty salad and some yummy vegetable soup (She announced ahead of time that she was going to pick out and not eat the onions but she forgot and gobbled up all of her soup).
When we are able to eat produce that is either home grown or local and fresh we gift our bodies with the most nutrients possible. Do a google search for farmer's markets or You-Pick farms in your area. Watch the back roads for local produce stands.
I can remember some time ago meeting a lady who owned a family run apple orchard. She was appalled that anyone would even eat an apple that had been picked many, many months before. And she was right! Not only do fruits and vegetables lose their flavor and texture but in many cases some of their nutrients as well, if they have undergone long storage or long distance shipping.
By now you are wondering what our challenge is for this week and it is to partake of some of the bounty of Fall. You earn your 5 daily challenge points if you:
1. If at all possible go to a local farmer’s market or neighborhood produce market that features some locally grown produce. Spend some time and make a purchase. It would be wonderful if you bought something you don’t normally eat! Give something new a try! I understand if work or family responsibilities make this impossible but if it is at all possible GO!
2. Each day partake of at least one fruit or vegetable that is in season in late Summer or fall. Here is a list to choose from. There may be additional fresh local produce available where you live.
Apples are one of those fruits people have forgotten have a season. But they do, and in the Northern Hemisphere they're harvested late summer through fall.
Artichokes produce a second, smaller crop in the fall (the first go-around is in the spring) that tends to produce small to medium artichokes.
Arugula is a cool weather peppery green harvested at different times in different places (winter in warm climates, summer in cool ones) but
Broccoli can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we've forgotten it even has a season. It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up - they'll last quite a bit longer than once they're cut.
Carrots are harvested year-round in temperate areas. Unusual varieties are harvested during the carrot's natural season, which is late summer and fall. Locally grown carrots are often available from storage through early winter even in colder climates.
Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.
Chard like all cooking greens, chard turns bitter when it gets too hot. Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions.
Chiles are best at the end of summer and into fall. Dried chiles are, of course, available year-round.
Cranberries, native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.
Edamame are fresh soy beans - look for them in late summer and fall.
Eggplant (early fall) comes into season towards the end of summer, but bright shiny heavy-feeling specimens stay in season well into fall.
Figs have a short second season in late fall (the first harvest comes in summer) just in time for Thanksgiving.
Garlic is another produce item that we forget has a season; fresh garlic is at its plump, sweetest best in late summer and fall.
Grapes (early fall) ripen towards the end of summer where they grow best; the harvest continues into fall.
Green beans tend to be sweetest and most tender during their natural season, from mid-summer into fall in most regions.
Herbs of hearty sorts are available fresh in fall - look for bundles of rosemary, parsley, thyme, and sage.
Kale is like all hearty cooking greens - cooler weather keeps it sweet.
Kohlrabi (late fall) comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at
Lettuce (in warmer climates), like other greens bolt and turn bitter when the weather gets too warm, making it in-season somewhere in the U.S. year-round. It can also be grown in low-energy greenhouses in colder climates through the winter.
Limes are harvested in semi-tropical and tropical areas in summer and fall.
Mushrooms (wild) have different seasons throughout the U.S. Most wild mushrooms other than morels are in-season in summer through fall.
Okra (early fall) needs heat to grow, so a nice long, hot summer in warmer climates brings out its best. Look for firm, plump pods in late summer and early fall.
Onions come from storage all year round but most onions are harvested in late summer through the fall.
Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.
Pears have a season that runs from mid-summer well into winter, depending on the variety and region.
Peppers (early fall) - both sweet and spicy- are harvested in late summer and early fall.
Persimmons are available for a short window in the fall and early winter - look for bright, heavy-feeling fruits.
Pomegranates only ripen in warmer climates. They are in season starting in October and are usually available fresh through December.
Potatoes are excellent storage vegetables, but most varieties are harvested in the fall.
Pumpkins are the most common winter squash and come into season in September in most areas.
Quinces -are most under-appreciated fruit. Bright and tart, quince jellies and desserts are a fall and early winter favorite.
Radishes (all types) are so fast-growing that they can be sown several times during the growing season in most climates. Fall marks the end of the season for small red radishes and the beginning of the season for larger daikon-type radishes.
Shallots are harvested in late summer and into fall, and are at their sweetest when fresh.
Shelling beans are those beans that can become dried beans but are briefly available fresh, as shelling beans, in mid-summer to early fall depending on your climate.
Spinach, indeed, has a season. It varies with your climate - year-round in temperate areas, summer and fall in cooler areas, fall through spring in warmers regions.
Sweet potatoes are often sold as "yams." They store well and are available from local sources year-round in warmer areas; from late summer through winter other places.
Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter.
Zucchini have a harvest season from summer into fall in most climates.