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Guide to Eight Growing Regions

Discover what's ripe for the picking in your neck of the woods and around the country with our regional market-shopping guide.

01_Regions_Pacific

Pacific Northwest

This fertile region, encompassing the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, is vast and varied. In coastal areas the climate is rainy and mild for most of the year; west of the Cascade Mountains, however, the growing season is short, dry, and windy. All the same, plenty of produce thrives here.

Regional specialties:

Fish and shellfish; hazelnuts from Oregon, and Idaho potatoes, which will hit their peak in September and October.

Produce picks:

June

asparagus, cherries, rhubarb and spinach

July

berries, cucumbers, peaches and apricots

August

corn, tomatoes and melons

02_Regions_California

California

From surfers to wine aficionados, Californians are as diverse as their state. And this single state represents a massive growing region with distinctly different climates. In the southern and central parts, the growing season lasts all year long. Northern California, however, has more in common with the Pacific Northwest. Frosts are rare here, and every part of the state produces an abundance of food.

Regional specialties:

California is also known, of course, for its citrus fruits, and for the world-class wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

Produce picks:

June

avocados, okra, strawberries, peaches and plums

July

green beans and summer squash

August

figs, melons, tomatoes, and tomatillos

03_Regions_SE

Southwest

Much of this region, which includes Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah, and Colorado, is defined by hot, dry desert conditions. Although growing is done year-round, there’s a greater abundance of produce harvested in the spring and early summer months than in the hottest part of the year.

Regional specialties:

No visit to this region is complete without indulging in Tex-Mex fare, including tamales, fresh chorizo, and chiles prepared in every imaginable way.

Produce picks:

June

melons, peaches, and summer squash

July

kale, lettuce, peppers and cucumbers

August

tomatoes, chile peppers, and black-eyed peas

04_Regions_prarie

Prairie

The sprawling stretch of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa make up this varied region. The climate is diverse, featuring high elevation areas with cold winters and short summers, and lower-lying ones with more moderate temperatures and longer growing seasons.

Regional specialties:

The prairie states are known for their beef and pork production, and some of the countries finest meats come from here. Grains—wheat, soybeans and corn in particular—are mainstays, too.

Produce picks:

June

cabbage, beets and spinach

July

summer squash, and green beans

August

peppers, eggplant and cucumbers.

05_Regions_Great_lakes

Great Lakes

The states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio comprise a wide climate range. One of the coldest cities in North America, in fact, is International Falls, Minnesota. But the southern part of the region is considerably milder. The lakes add a temperate, humid influence on much of this part of the country, bringing snowy winters and warm, wet summers.

Regional specialties:

This is dairy country, and no visit to Wisconsin would be complete without a good cheese sampler. Another specialty item to look for in the lake states is wild rice, which is traditionally harvested by hand from canoes.

Produce picks:

June

asparagus, peas, and collard greens

July

cherries, strawberries and summer squash

August

blueberries, melons, tomatoes, and peaches

06_Regions_New_england

New England

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut: home of baseball fans and seafood lovers. This part of the country enjoys four distinct seasons, although summertime is hotter along the coast than inland and at higher elevation. The summer harvest is typically bountiful, except in the coldest areas where the last frost can arrive as late as early June.

Regional specialties:

Fish and seafood are major New England industries. Don’t leave the coast of Maine without enjoying a lobster roll, or Boston without a bowl of chowder.

Produce picks:

June

beets, cabbages, radishes, lettuces and arugula

July

peas, peppers and berries

August

tomatoes, melons and summer squash

07_Regions_mid_atlantic

Mid-Atlantic

With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and mountains to the west, the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia enjoy a fairly moderate climate with hot, humid summers, especially along the coast. The southernmost states have exceptionally long growing seasons—good news for locavores!

Regional specialties:

Maryland blue crabs, Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie and, come the first of September, one of New York’s most important contributions to the culinary landscape: apples.

Produce picks:

June

peas, spinach, scallions, and strawberries

July

berries, cantaloupe, corn, and tomatoes

August

watermelon, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs

08_Regions_South_East

Southeast

The eastern portion of the southern United States includes the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas,and Florida. The upper part of the region is defined by four distinct, if moderate seasons, while the lower South enjoys long, hot summers and mild to barely perceptible winters.

Regional specialties:

Southern delicacies could (and have) filled many books, from Louisiana gulf shrimp to Kentucky bourbon, Virginia ham to low-country South Carolina boiled peanuts.

Produce picks:

June

peaches, corn, and blueberries

July

melons, tomatoes, peppers and summer squash

August

okra and field peas

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