As the summer season ends, so go the fruits and vegetables that we have been enjoying. Out go the traditional light and fresh summer dishes.
We welcome soups with hearty vegetables and slow-cooked meats with palate-cleansing drinks with the taste of fresh citrus. Apples, avocados, carrots, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries are all fruits and vegetables that won’t be in season now--but we can say hello to a new variety of foods.
As the winter season arrives, so do cabbage, celery, kale, broccoli, parsnips, and a slew of citrus fruits.
The biggest difference is the climate change. As the weather gets colder, the growing conditions for certain fruits become better.
When I asked farmer Phil Rhodes at the Daly City Farmers Market what his bestselling crop is during winter, he told me that citrus fruits are primed for harvesting and selling. He explained that the climate around South San Francisco is not great for growing citrus, so he comes from Central Valley to sell at the local markets.
Just as farmers have to transition seasons, so do consumers. For people who are making a transition from supermarkets to farmers markets, here are some things to look out for during the winter season:
When you visit the market enough times, certain sellers will earn your trust and will become favorites. When you find that special stand, you will want to know if they are a year-round farm. The farms that are year-round will transition from the summers’ crops and will grow variations of the winter’s crops and whatever they grow; they pick the best of the harvest and sell.
The winter seasons vegetables and fruits list include: beets, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, kiwis, kumquats, pears, etc.
Other farms do not go year-round and will stop production around January as Jeff Rhodes, owner of Rhodes Family Farms explained to me. If you walk around looking for fruits, vegetables, or meat, most stands say that they are organic, certified organic, cage free, grass fed and one may not be like the other.
Generally organic just means that the farm only uses compost and no pesticides but there are stands that say “no pesticides” but do not say “organic”. “Organic” generally refers to the way that the produce is grown so even if its “all natural”, it may not be organic.
The vendors at the Daly City Farmers Market were very friendly when I asked them questions about their produce. There are farmers markets in Millbrae and Alameda, each with great stuff for sale and helpful personnel who would answer every question you have. Go out and see what is fresh and delicious and welcome the seasons eating!