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janbb's avatar

What produce items are only worth eating in season and from local sources?

Asked by janbb (62560points) June 9th, 2023

The big beautiful looking strawberries I bought this week from California taste like wood – and look like wood inside. I was able to get New Jersey strawberries today from a farm market and they taste the way I remember strawberries used to taste.

What food items have you found are noticeably better when bought locally and/or in season?

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22 Answers

Smashley's avatar

Tomatoes. Once they hit the fridge, they lose most of their character.

Everything, really, tastes better the closer to fresh picked that it is, which is almost always correlated to it being locally in season.

janbb's avatar

@Smashley I never put tomatoes in the fridge but I’ve actually found the hothouse grown Campari tomatoes to have the best tomato-ey taste.

Smashley's avatar

@janbb – hot houses are not bad things, but if you compare a store tomato (which has always spent some time in a fridge) to a never refrigerated one, there is no comparison.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Now I want a tomato.

Jeruba's avatar

Apricots. They are too fragile to travel well, and hard, under-ripe apricots are no bargain. When I moved here to Northern California, we had a thriving apricot tree (and peach and cherry) in the back yard. Ripe, sun-warmed apricots just picked from the tree are a treat, if you can get them before the birds and squirrels do.

Craving an apricot now, @Hawaii_Jake?

I’m a tomato lover too. My sister-in-law in Mass. introduced me to Camparis last summer. They’re not easy to find around here, but that’s what I buy now.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Jeruba Apricots are my favorite fruit. We had a tree in the backyard in the house I grew up in. I always have dried ones on hand.

janbb's avatar

@Smashley I agree but even here in NJ, the erstwhile “Garden State,” it is hard even in the summer to get a really great tasting tomato, even from my garden. They seem to be bred for transport rather than taste. My Ex once picked a tomato out of his salad (a pale sickly thing) and said to the waiter, “Does the chef know this is August and we’re in New Jersey?”

Smashley's avatar

@janbb – you could be right about breeding. Restaurants have it tough, and tomato standards are frankly in the pits, so I’m not surprised when they do the easier, cheaper thing. I guess you’ll just have to stick to farmers markets (it’s worth asking if their tomatoes have ever been in the fridge) and growing them in the back yard. There’s a reason “home grown tomatoes” is a popular folk song.

Smashley's avatar

Sorry, you DO grow your own. Perhaps you need a different variety.

janbb's avatar

^^ Perhaps. We’ll see what this summer brings.

janbb's avatar

I can’t say I’ve vern notcied any difference in cucumbers whether local or not.

Smashley's avatar

Well, you’re singling out the most flavorless of vegetables, but I think there’s a difference.

What’s the difference between a cucumber and a school bus?

The cucumber has the little pricks on the OUTSIDE!

canidmajor's avatar

Around here, tomatoes, definitely. I don’t eat fresh tomatoes in the winter at all (as Garrison Keillor once described them: “those styrofoam things that they stripmine down in Texas”). I’ll get them from local farmers markets before mine are ready, they start them much earlier, then I eat my own (when Alan the marmot doesn’t steal them) until late September.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I prefer all my produce local and organic. Last week I bought lovely looking tomatoes at the store (I’m impatient) and they were utterly disgusting.
Thank goodness my husband is an excellent gardener. I’ll just wait haha.

smudges's avatar

corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes, peaches, some oranges, most berries

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Juicy, summer tomatoes. Year-round, grape tomatoes are very good, and they make an excellent soup in January. But, for the real thing, go for ripe tomatoes in summertime.

Peaches and plums. Don’t even try to buy the rock-hard versions during winter.

Apples and pears, during autumn. If you buy them beyond their season, you’re getting something that’s (a) been cultivated to last, at the expense of flavor, and (b) has been sitting in a refrigerated, reduced-oxygen room for a while.

Oranges, nectarines, and clementimes, during winter (ok, not from local sources, but worth a mention). See the preceding paragraph for the out-of-season problems.

cookieman's avatar

I worked at a local 600+ acre farm for five years as their creative director (website, marketing, events, advertising). I learned a lot there so take this for what it’s worth…

Berries, Corn, Tomatoes, and Stone Fruit (peaches, plums, etc.) are the big ones. So much better when in season and grown within 100 miles of where you buy them.

Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Eggplants are a close second.

Winter Squashes, apples, carrots, melons, leafy vegetables, legumes and such keep well if stored cool and dry and can travel further distances and still be good.

snowberry's avatar

Don’t bother with hothouse strawberries in the winter, at least that’s what I suppose they are. They look great on the outside, and look fine when they are cut, but they never have any flavor.

JLeslie's avatar

Certain fruits and veggies I try to only eat in season. Here’s my list:


Additionally, I tend to not buy apples in the summer, but I don’t always stick to that. When I lived north of Florida I would only buy cantaloupe in the summer, but in Florida they can be good all year.

Tomatoes I often buy hydroponic in the grocery store, but right now some of the earth grown tomatoes have been amazing.

Strawberries I tend to buy during Florida Strawberry season. The farms are in my region of Florida and there are big Strawberry festivals every year. Our grocery stores stock up on local strawberries.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Figs, they don’t keep well and unless they come off a local tree you may not be able to even obtain them. Sadly the prolonged cold snap we had here killed my tree to the ground. It’s growing back but it’ll be a couple years before I get figs from it again. It’ll be a couple more before I get all I can eat.

SnipSnip's avatar

I love strawberries and do eat those grown in other places, but the ones that come from Plant City, FL seem to me to be the best that I’ve had a chance to eat.

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