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Fall is the traditional time to harvest fruits and vegetables. If you have your own vegetable garden, you may already know this. However, if you’re new to the in-season-produce game,trying to figure out the ins and outs of eating seasonally may be a little intimidating. Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasonal produce.

What Does “In Season” Mean?

Simply put, “in season” refers to food that’s harvested at a particular time of year. This ensures that you’re getting produce when it’s at its very best. This produce will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Also, your produce won’t be treated with harmful chemicals, so it’s even more healthy for your family.

What’s “Peak Season”?

“Peak season” is the time of the season when buying a particular fruit or veggie is most beneficial. First off, it’s when the produce is most available. Next, since it’s in abundance during peak season, the produce is far cheaper than any other time of year. Another benefit is that the produce has the most flavor during this time because it’s been allowed to fully ripen. However, perhaps the most important reason to buy produce in peak season is that it also has the maximum amount of nutrients.

 

Why Buy Local?Young woman inspects produce at farmers market


Buying locally grown produce ensures that there are little to no chemicals used as preservatives. If you were to buy seasonal produce from a farm out West and you live in the South, it’s highly probable that the farm will treat the produce with preservatives. Also, local produce doesn’t have to be shipped from another location, cutting down on pollutants like carbon dioxide gas. You can either purchase produce directly from the farmer at a farmer’s market or from a nearby farm.As an added bonus, buying locally stimulates the economy in your area, which is good for everyone in the long run.

Not in the mood to shop and cook for produce? Here at Market Table, we partner with local farms and food distributors to make sure we use locally grown and responsibly farmed produce whenever possible. 

Farmers Market gourds and mini-pumpkinsFinding Out What’s in Season


The best way to find out what’s in season in your area is to visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website. They will have a list of produce with information on when the season for something starts and when it ends. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers convenient seasonality charts. On Alabama Farmers Market Authority’s website, you’ll find a list of seasonal produce and information about when it’s in peak season. This Alabama Cooperative Extension System guide, put together by Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, lists seasonal produce and ideas for preparing it.

What’s in Season Now?


Here’s a list of what’s in season this fall and winter in the Southeast:

Flat-lay of heirloom tomatoesApples
Greens
Cucumbers
Grapes
Leeks
Lettuce
Okra
Peaches
Peppers
Herbs
Onions
Pecans
Beans
Tomatoes
Figs
Pumpkins
Rutabaga
Squash
Persimmons
Peas
Salad Greens

 

Text by Amber Pope