There’s nothing worse than knowing that once that winter frost hits, tomatoes are going to go through the roof. I mean, I love the bright sun, the warm days and the late nights that come with the summertime, but I’ma keep it real. The best thing that summer can do for me is bring the price of tomatoes down to $1.29 per pound.

I get so used to enjoying a tomato every day, that I tend to shed a tear when the price goes up. Just one.

Let’s look at produce practically. In short, someone has to grow it.

Certain fruits and vegetables can only be grown in certain climates… that’s why certain locations are “known” for certain types of produce – Florida Oranges, Georgia Peaches… some places just do what they do relatively well. You won’t find Minnesota bragging about their winter strawberries.

Let’s say that you live in… some place that gets snow. Snowville, USA. Provided you don’t have some awesome locavore or CSA network that you’re affiliated with (more on those later), you’re probably getting your produce from a grocery. That grocery knows that its patrons complain when they can’t have their beloved strawberries in the winter, so what does the grocery store do? They call up their folks in Florida, and ask them to ship some strawberries up north!

Florida then puts on its cape and tights, and says “I’m on my way!” Before you know it, a giant truck is on it’s way from Florida to Snowville to make sure that this grocery store has its strawberries for their patrons to enjoy. Remember, we’re Capitalists – the grocery store doesn’t want you to go elsewhere to get your strawberries, because they know that out of convenience, you’ll just keep shopping at your strawberry place for everything else.

When you pay for strawberries out of season, you’re paying for labor – it takes effort to get strawberries from Florida to Snowville – as well as the fuel used to drive them to you. Yes, you’re paying for the gas. That cost has to be passed on to someone, and why not the customer who insists on having strawberries out of season?

Remember the great gas hike of 2008? Remember how the news kept saying that it affected food prices, but no one understood why? We were paying for the extra cost of the food being shipped to the store. The grocery store for darn sure wasn’t going to pay for that. Interestingly enough, those people who were buying their produce locally and in-season were relatively unaffected by the hike. They weren’t paying for produce shipped a thousand miles away from where it was grown… or the gas bill that comes with it.

Buying in season means that the spring time brings you lots of lemons, spinach, turnips, strawberries, kale, lettuce, celery, peppers, peas and onions. The summer gives us artichokes, broccoli, cherries, peaches, sweet corn, cucumbers, honeydew melons, raspberries, tomatoes and watermelon. We can look forward to the fall for pears, plums, pumpkins, garlic, carrots, apples, squash and zucchini. The winter might not offer too much, but as for new veggies? I’ve grown to appreciate my collard greens, brussel sprouts, radishes and cabbage.

Buying your produce while it’s in season means that you’re most likely to purchase the product when it’s plentiful in your area.. which means sales! I mean, let’s keep it real – nothing made me happier today than to see this beautiful sight below:

Fifty cents a pound for green beans? Please believe the family will be having green beans in stir fry, breaded green beans as a side, baked green beans, whatever. I’ll get two pounds, freeze 75% of them and store them away… bringing them out when I feel like green beans for dinner. I won’t even tell you what I did when sweet potatoes got down to $0.29 per pound. Yes. Twenty-nine cents per pound. Yum.

To help you on your journey toward in-season shopping, I’ve pasted a relatively exhaustive list of what you should be able to find during each month of the year for cheaper. Good luck, and gimme a dollar! You should have plenty left over. 🙂

Spring

Apricots
Artichokes
Asparagus
Belgian Endive
Broccoli
Butter Lettuce
Chayote Squash
Cherimoya
Chives
Collard Greens
Corn
English Peas
Fava Beans
Fennel
Fiddlehead Ferns
Green Beans
Honeydew
Mango
Morel Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Oranges
Limes
Lychee
Pea Pods
Pineapple
Ramps
Rhubarb
Snow Peas
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring Baby Lettuce
Strawberries
Sugar Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Vidalia Onions
Watercress

Summer

Apricots
Beets
Bell Peppers
Blackberries
Blueberries
Boysenberries
Butter Lettuce
Cantaloupe
Casaba Melon
Chayote Squash
Cherries
Cherries, Sour
Corn
Crenshaw Melon
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Figs
Garlic
Grapefruit
Grapes
Green Beans
Honeydew Melons
Jalapeno Peppers
Lima Beans
Limes
Loganberries
Lychee
Nectarines
Olallieberries
Okra
Passion Fruit
Peaches
Peas
Persian Melons
Plums
Radishes
Raspberries
Strawberries
Summer Squash
Tomatillo
Tomatoes
Watermelon
Zucchini

Fall

Acorn Squash
Belgian Endive
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Butternut Squash
Cape Gooseberries
Cauliflower
Celery Root
Chayote Squash
Cranberries
Diakon Radish
Garlic
Ginger
Grapes
Guava
Huckleberries
Jalapeno Peppers
Kohlrabi
Kumquats
Mushrooms
Passion Fruit
Pear
Persimmons
Pineapple
Pomegranate
Pumpkin
Quince
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Winter Squash

Winter

Belgian Endive
Brussels Sprouts
Cherimoya
Chestnuts
Collard Greens
Dates
Grapefruit
Kale
Kiwifruit
Leeks
Oranges
Passion Fruit
Pear
Persimmons
Pummelo
Radicchio
Red Currants
Sweet Potatoes
Tangerines
Turnips
Winter Squash

[source]

Other posts in the series: