Eating seasonally means better-tasting and more nutritious fruits and vegetables
Mark Salter, executive chef at the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Md., looks forward to spring and summer when he can visit the local farmers markets on Maryland's Eastern Shore and buy fresh produce such as locally grown asparagus, wild watercress, mixed salad leaves, sweet white corn, vine-ripened tomatoes, and ripe peaches.
"When you can buy produce that has just been picked, it tastes so much better," says Salter, who changes his menu seasonally to take advantage of the freshest ingredients. "That's one reason so many chefs like to have their own garden ... you get to use the produce at its best."
Salter also likes buying at farmers markets because he knows that the produce is grown "as naturally" as possible. "There's someone there to vouch for the quality," he says.
Seasonal Produce Available to All
You don't have to be a professional chef, however, to enjoy the fruits -- literally and figuratively -- of the season. And if there are no farmers markets near you, not to worry, says Claudia Gonzalez, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Most of the produce we get in the United States is good," she says. "Of course, the fresher the better, but if you have to go to the grocery store and not a produce stand or farmers market, that's not a problem."
What's in season varies with location and weather, but in general, the following fruits and vegetables are at their peak during the spring and summer.
- Garlic greens
- Bok choy
- Mustard greens
- Tat soi
- Peas -- snap and snow
- Green beans
- Onions -- red and yellow
- Peppers -- hot and sweet
- Potatoes -- new
- Summer squash
- Sweet corn