From cherries and watermelons to okra and tomatoes, Summer provides a plethora of fruits and vegetables that are best in their peak season. Read why eating seasonally available produce is important for your Paleo diet and our featured Summer recipes.
It's summer, folks! That means the produce department is looking plentiful. A large part of following Paleo principles is always making the best effort to eat whatever is currently in season. Food is metabolized differently depending on the current season and weather conditions. For most of history, up until recent developments in industrial agriculture, in-season local produce was the only food available.
The Best Nutrients Come From Eating Seasonally
Today you have the option to eat most fresh produce year round. But, making a point to eat foods only in-season and that are available locally means they not only taste better and are less expensive, but they're metabolized optimally to provide the most nutrition during those seasons. Eating seasonally is additionally better for the environment at the top because it doesn't rely on monocultures or rely on shipping produce around the world.
Eating in-season encourages a little more variety and creativity when it comes to planning and cooking your meals, as the repertoire needs should be changed every few months. Pete's Paleo meals are based on seasonal availability and change constantly depending on what's available from the farmers. And because Pete's Paleo is on both coasts, we have access to all regional food without having to ship it across the country to be cooked; which makes us unique!
Summer is the most abundant season of the year, offering up the most colorful, delicious and exciting fruits and vegetables. Knowing what they are allows you to take advantage of them while they are at their peak!
While some farmer's markets will have different offerings compared to others, keep your eyes out for some of these fruits and vegetables.
Farmer's Markets will likely continue to carry cherries throughout the season, though the types of cherries may change as the season goes on. In July, you'll find both tart and sweet cherries - making this the best time to pick up a pint or two.
These delicious morsels can be enjoyed fresh - just rinse and trim the stems before eating.
Grapes need plenty of sun and heat to develop their flavors; as they concentrate all their sugars in August. This is when you'll find many varieties from champagne to cotton-candy grapes. A good way to select grapes is to pay attention to the color of the stem. If the stems are brittle, it means they are likely less fresh and will not last long once home. Grapes with a flexible green stem are a what to look out for.
Though you can get a decent melon in the fall or even winter, summer is really their peak. Whether you choose a melon with a white, deep orange or a salmon flesh, they are sweetest and juiciest during the summer. To pick a good melon, look for symmetry, a heavy weight for its size and no bruising.
August is a good month to keep an eye out for okra. Look for small green pods with no bruising.
Keep an eye out for the bright, green pea pods. Peas taste their best in the summer and if you live in higher altitudes, peas are most likely available and can be enjoyed all summer long.
If you can smell peaches, that is the best indication that they're ripe and ready to eat. While peach season can peak in states at different times, July will most often provide you with especially juicy ones. Peaches should be firm and without bruises on the outside.
Summer is the season for stone fruit like plums and pluots. These look like deep red or nearly forest green and are especially flavorful in late summer; as their color darkens and their flesh sweetens.
This vegetable is hearty; originating from areas with tough climates like China, Mongolia and Russia. Rhubarb can begin to appear in the Spring, but can have a long summer season in some states. Remember to only eat the stalks and not the leaves, which are poisonous.
These need long, hot days to really develop in flavor. Heirloom varieties have become very popular and much more widely available in the last few years. To find the perfect tomato, look for a fruit with bright, shiny and firm skin that has a little give when gently squeezed.
Fruits, Vegetables, Greens & Herbs To Enjoy All Summer Long
For ideas on what to do with your bounty, here are some of my favorite recipes. And for added inspiration, be sure to check out Chef Pete Servold's book, Paleo by Season.
For more information on eating according to the season, download our Paleo By Season Summer Map:
Tomato & Herb Salad with Roasted Lemon