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Eat This Now: A Regional Guide to Summer Produce

The moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: summer produce is back at the markets. Carts and stalls are bursting with delicious, flavorful foods, and after a winter spent subsisting on root vegetables, it’s not a moment too soon.

Growing seasons vary, but summer is by far the most bountiful produce season across the entire country, when each region harvests and enjoys the lion’s share of its particular specialties. Although conventionally grown produce is available in supermarkets nationwide, check in with your farmers’ market to enjoy some of your region’s best local offerings.

The West
This region includes: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska

California, the state that grows about 80 percent of our country’s produce, is in full bloom in the summer, generating outstanding peaches, apricots, nectarines, and other stone fruits through August, along with sweet and delicious raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Because of the Mediterranean-like climate, basil and avocados are also at their best now. Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, and Montana also produce cherries until the end of the summer.

Recipes to Try: Guacamole authentico; Basil-infused oil; Mint-blackberry charbroiled lamb chops

The Midwest

This region includes: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio

Corn is king in the Midwest; it’s a summer institution sold by the bushel at every roadside stand in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri. Green beans, broccoli, watermelon, and eggplant are other fruits and vegetables that are at their peak right now in this region.

Recipes to Try: Corn on the cob; Amazingly delicious roasted green beans

The South
This region includes: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.

Cantaloupes and watermelons are grown all over the South, reaching their peak in mid- to late summer. Okra, onions, cabbage, and peppers are also harvested now. In Florida, it’s all about mangoes (through August, anyway), star fruit, and, of course, key limes.

Recipes to Try: Mango and black bean dip; Chile, lime, and brown sugar cole slaw

The Northeast
This region includes: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island

In the summer, New England grows the country’s most delectable blueberries. In Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, the berries are at their peak ripeness, and this is one crop that you can’t find locally in many places west of the Mississippi River. New Jersey is deservedly famous for its tomatoes, with the best beefsteak and heirloom varieties arriving in markets in August.

Recipes to Try: Blueberry banana cream pie; Tomato and basil salad

These aren’t the only treats being harvested this summer—across the country, ’tis the season for garlic, carrots, grapes, summer squash, shallots, rhubarb, onions, and cilantro, too. Whether you preserve them for use year-round or eat them immediately, the important thing is to get ’em while you can.

Allison Ford

Allison is a writer and editor who specializes in beauty, style, entertainment, and pop culture. She was part of the editorial team at DivineCaroline (now for more than three years. She loves makeup, sparkly accessories, giraffes, brunch, Matt Damon, New York City, and ice cream.