Why choose fruits and vegetables that are in season in the U.S. and/or North Dakota?
Fruits and vegetables in any form - fresh, frozen, dried, canned or juice - taste delicious and are beautiful to behold. When we eat them we can protect our health against chronic disease such as stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
Humans, for most of our time on earth, have eaten only what is available each season.
Do you remember picking an apple right off a tree and biting into it? How about pulling a pea pod off the vine and tasting the cool, chewy peas inside? Or maybe waiting for the summer’s first juicy peaches to arrive in the grocery store?
The fresher the produce, the tastier and more nutritious it is.
Foods in season are more likely to be most affordable, too.
Choosing local foods grown in season supports the local economy.
Produce that is in season is less likely to have travelled a great distance. Eating more local, seasonal food reduces the energy needed to grow and transport the food we eat.
How do you find foods that are in season?
Check out the North Dakota Harvest Calendar for a general guideline for availability of fruits and vegetables grown in North Dakota.
Shop a farmers market. The North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association has a searchable list at its website.
Look for specials in your grocery store; ask your grocer where its produce comes from.
Fruits & Veggies—More Matters™ offers information on planning and shopping for fruits and vegetables. Included is a listing of "What's in Season" for the United States
Pride of the Prairie in Northern Minnesota offers a Seasonal Food Guide for the Northern Plains
Fruits & Veggies Matter website features the “Fruit & Vegetable of the Month”
What’s In Season now?
Got fruit and vegetable peels and trimmings? Then you've got food for a compost pile. For more on composting how-to, see the ND Department of Health's information
In the North country, we fully enjoy the "fruits" of our short growing season. In September, we can still enjoy corn on the cob and summer squashes such as zucchini and crook-neck squash. Until the frost, we'll enjoy tomatoes and maybe even some peppers. Let's not forget the fragrant muskmelon and cateloupe. The adventurous growers may even be enjoying eggplant! By the end of September, we'll be well into pumpkins and winter squashes, carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and apples!
Eggplant for the adventurous (psst - it is not bitter!). Eggplant can be prepared in many ways - roasted, grilled or steamed - not just fried. NY Times "Recipes for Health" primer on eggplant and links to recipes.
Ahh, glorious summer! It's a short season, but still time to grow and enjoy great-tasting produce!
In North Dakota backyard and community gardens, community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers market producer plots you can find Swiss chard and kale, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers, peas and green beans, and onions.
At your local grocery store from other areas of the United States, you can find:
Fruits: stone fruits (apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums); berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries; grapes and watermelon
Vegetables: cucumber, celery, eggplant, onions and garlic, peas and green beans, lettuce and spinach, peppers and summer squash. The late summer months provide us with a bonanza of opportunities for healthy eating!
Looking to preserve the flavor of summer? NDSU Extension Service provides information on drying, freezing and canning summer produce.
There is nothing like rhubarb that signals spring here in the northland! Rhubarb does well here where we have cold winters. Rhubarb crisp, pies, cakes and breads are usual ways to used rhubarb in cooking; recipes typically have sugar added to cut its tart flavor.
Here are ideas for eating rhubarb without adding sugar:
- Slice it thinly into a vegetable slaw
- Slice thinly into green salads for added jewel colors and crunch!
These ideas were found at http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/agk/rhubarb
Spinach is a leafy green that can be eaten raw or cooked! It wilts or cooks in just minutes!
Five new ways to enjoy spinach:
- As a pizza topper! More surprises for your pizza - broccoli, green peppers or zucchini
- Inside your sandwich – more color and flavor than lettuce
- Soup it up – add chopped spinach a few minutes before serving
- Be a loafer – add finely chopped spinach in as you mix your meatloaf
- Use your noodle – chopped spinach fits in to pasta sauce, too!
Check to be sure that the fresh vegetables you buy are not bruised or damaged. Wash spinach thoroughly washed before eating. (Although washing produce would not have prevented the 2006 E-coli outbreak involving spinach, washing can reduce the risk of contamination from some other causes.) Packaged vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed” need not be washed.
Of course in a North Dakota winter, snow and wind are in season! As Pride of the Prairie notes, “winter is a great time to combine canned, frozen, dried and stored produce with products like locally grown grains and meats that are available all year round.” Grocery stores or your own root cellar may still have root vegetables such as parsnips or carrots, and potatoes. It’s a great time of year for fruits such as dates, grapefruit, kiwi, and tangerines from the U. S. Apples and pears from storage may be good deals at this time of year. Vegetables that are U. S. in season include bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and radishes.
Dry beans are always in season. North Dakota is the number one producer of dry beans such as navy beans and pinto beans, and is a major producer of great northern beans, black beans, and pink beans.
Nothing warms the soul like soup! Making soup is a delicious way to make good use of some of the vegetables that are canned, frozen, dried or stored away after summer's bounty. See the winter recipes below for some delicious suggestions.
Healthy North Dakota shares recipes and ways to eat more root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips and beets- oh yes!) in this KX news segment
In Season Recipes
Vegetarian Fall Recipes at The Veggie Table
Fall vegetable Recipes (hundreds!) at Epicurious.com
Low-cost, easy-to-make recipes starring fruits and vegetables from Champions for Change
Apple Carrot Salad Easy and tasty: 5 ingredients, 10 minutes!
Healthy Warm Apple Crisp Recipe
Pear Ka-Bobs Fun to make and eat! Makes a PEAR-fect after-school snack
Fall vegetable stew with lots of ingredients!
Pumpkin Soup, smooth and creamy
Tomato "Pick of the Month" tips on choosing, storing and preparing
Summer Fruit and Veggie Guide from the Food Network
Summer Fruits & Veggies Q & A from University of Nebraska Food Reflections
Simple tips for Grilling Fruits and Vegetables from Clark County, Nevada
More than 100 Ways to Use Summer Produce from Food & Wine (not all recipes meet healthy criteria)
Baked Peaches with Almond Paste from Food & Wine online
Healthy Berry Recipes from Eating Well
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds by Rachel Ray on the Food Network website
Cucumber Salad from the Recipe Czar
Cucumber and Black-eyed Pea Salad using canned beans or peas and local cucumbers, peppers, and onions, courtesy of Eating Well
A link to the Food Network’s “spring” section
Spring for Spinach! From National Geographic “GreenGuide” includes a recipe for Spinach with Sesame Miso Sauce
Asparagus tastes great roasted on the grill! Just toss with a bit of olive oil and watch closely. Here is a recipe for steamed asparagus with lemon
Traditional and unusual rhubarb recipes can be found here
North Dakota native Amy Myrdal Miller shares a recipe for Rhubarbecue Sauce cooked up for a Myrdal family reunion!
Baked Seasonal Fruit, at this time of year baking apples and pears together!
Epicurious recipe database features winter vegetable recipes, including "Winter Vegetable Curry"
Baked Acorn Squash With Walnut Oil and Maple Syrup would be a wonderful accompaniment to any holiday meal
Root vegetables rock in winter - try parsnips 5 different ways from roasted to chipped
Quick Italian Vegetable Soup – This soup is FAST to make, requires no chopping and uses frozen vegetables, so is great in winter when there are limited options for fresh vegetables.
Fruits & Veggies Matter website features a searchable recipe index. All recipes listed there meet nutrition criteria
Here’s a simply delicious recipe from Fruits & Veggies Matter featuring roasted root vegetables such as carrots and turnips or parsnips:
Fruits & Veggies—More Matters™ also features a searchable recipe index with categories for moms and from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA):
Here is a recipe from Fruits & Veggies—More Matters/CIA that would taste great at any seasonal celebration, “Winter Squashes Sautéed with Cranberries & Pecans“
Another CIA recipe for “Classic Vegetable Soup”
The Food Network offers recipes for each season. Check out what's in season now:
Here is a winter recipe from the Food Network for “Homemade Tomato Soup”
The Canned Fruit Alliance offers some canned fruit recipes that taste great in any season
Northarvest Bean Growers offers up “Great Bean Recipes”
Here is a prizewinning chili recipe from the Northarvest site: