One of the best ways to save money on healthy foods is to eat seasonally! The problem is that eating seasonally is different in every area. It can also be different from year to year, depending on weather conditions. For example, early season crops will probably be a little late this year because it is still so cold and snowy.
In any case, just to give you a general idea based on several years of trying to eat seasonally and my farm experience, here’s a basic breakdown for central New York:
January – March: the only local fresh produce is from greenhouse growers – you can often find someone selling fresh lettuce or kale. Storage crops like root vegetables and winter squash will generally still be available from local farms through January or February. California/Florida produce is the next best option, but that means higher prices and produce that is less fresh.
April: possibly some very early lettuce or green onions, depending on the year. Again, California/Florida produce is the next best option – strawberries, radishes, lettuce, and green onions should be pretty fresh from California this month and there should still be some citrus available from Florida.
May: asparagus, green onions, radishes, dandelion greens, lettuce
June: peas, asparagus, green onions, radishes, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, strawberries
July: blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumber, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, melon
August: blueberries, raspberries, hot and bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, apples, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumber, onions, carrots
September: variable, some summer crops may still be available depending on weather, then apples, potatoes, onions, root crops (turnips, radishes, beets, etc), carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, kale, swiss chard
October-November: winter squash, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, apples, carrots, root crops
December: depending on how much snow there has been, some fresh kale might still be around. Also lots of root vegetables and winter squash.
Also, something I’ve noticed at the Regional Farmer’s Market in Syracuse: many sellers are not selling local produce! It’s often easy to tell this – if you see someone selling citrus (any time of the year) or if you see them selling things like tomatoes and bell peppers anytime other than summer they are most likely wholesalers that have bought produce from California or Florida. The only exception is if they are hydroponic growers that grow their produce in a greenhouse, but that is rare.
Anyway, all this to say, get to know the sellers you are buying from if you buy at the farmer’s market! Make sure what you are getting is fresh and local whenever possible for the best price and quality.