Eat Local

Published on September 6th, 2010 | by Rachel Shulman


Seasonal Eating: It’s Not Fall Yet!

Last week I started to notice some peculiar eating behaviors. One of my girlfriends told me that she’d picked up an acorn squash from the supermarket. A neighbor told me he was making an apple pie for Labor Day. And then my husband told me he was craving pumpkin bread pudding.

Normally I could chalk up this desire for quintessential fall produce to the unseasonably crisp weather we’re having in Missouri right now. But even before the cold front moved in, a few local chefs started asking the farm whether we had any winter squash for sale.

With the kids back in school, Halloween candy on display at the supermarket, and the first official day of fall just a little more than two weeks away, it’s easy to get confused about seasonal eating.

And it turns out that even farm-to-table restaurants are not immune to seasonal eating confusion. September has arrived and chefs are ready to display their fall menus.

Meanwhile, at the farm, we just planted a whole new crop of summer squash.

Extreme heat and humidity makes for difficult growing conditions in July and August here in Missouri. Milder temperatures in September and October makes this an optimal time to grow, well, just about everything. We’ll be selling heirloom tomatoes, pattypan squash, and cucumbers through October.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re growing typical fall produce like Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, and beets now too. All I’m saying is that we still have weeks of summer produce ahead of us.

So why start eating winter foods now, in early September, when you’ll be practically living off the stuff November through March? Trust me, there will be plenty of time to broaden your repertoire of winter squash and root vegetable recipes.

The best way to eat seasonably is to rely on your local farmers market, community garden, or CSA (community supported agriculture coalition) for produce – not the grocery store.

Image courtesy of NancyCoop via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (, friend me on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (

15 Responses to Seasonal Eating: It’s Not Fall Yet!

  1. Monika says:

    I don’t want to be that person who chimes in just to say that they found one instance in which you’re wrong. Three out of the five farmers at my local farmer’s market and my local farmer are all selling pumpkins and squash already. This is in Connecticut. I realize that by the end of fall, we might all be sick of gourds and I’m trying not to overdo it! However, depending on the area and the location, it is possible to eat seasonally and already be eating fall foods before fall has started. I am easily irritated by fall fever and christmas fever that starts as school as it seems the kids go back to school, but I think its important to stress that people eat locally and seasonally. I think its ok to get excited about the new crop that is coming in! I think its better to get excited for squash than eat out at any establishment.

    • Rachel Shulman says:

      Monika –

      You can definitely find quintessential fall foods like winter squash and apples in the late summer and early fall. I’m seeing plenty of winter squash and apples at the farmers market and street-side stands. All I was trying to say is that you can grow summer produce through September or October in many areas. Like I said to Becky, now is the transitional time for produce. So enjoy your butternut squash with some tomatoes or okra!

  2. While I haven’t seen any winter squash, the early varieties of apples are ready here in Michigan.

    • Rachel Shulman says:

      We’re seeing apples here in Missouri now too. But there’s still plenty of summer produce as well!

  3. We’ve had a few palm sized green apples from our CSA and some butternut squash, but the rest is all summery fruits and veggies. I like these transitional weather baskets, but I’m with you on winter squash: I’m so sick of the stuff by spring!

  4. I’m fattening pigs in the pear and apple orchard, and a local chef already wants them. How seasonal is that?!

  5. Trina C says:

    I agree, there is plenty of time for squash later. However, I have fall on the mind because I am doing lots of canning and preserving for later on. The weather does influence your thoughts. I’ve started thinking about apples now that the air is cooler. But I’m still out picking tomatoes and cucumbers every few days. Great post.

    • Rachel Shulman says:

      The cool weather strikes an almost biological urge in me to preserve food for winter, so I understand!

  6. Dee says:

    Though I am in California, I must admit the last two days have seemed very fall-ish. I’m not going to let some person tell me how to eat. Yes, we had stew last night. And if our spring comes early, we will eat accordingly. The beauty of it all is that we can have year-round foods available year-round! We will eat squash if we want to do so, and will eat apricots as well if we wish to do so in January. We don’t need someone to tell us what to eat and when.

    • Rachel Shulman says:

      Dee, I totally agree with you! That’s why I don’t want restaurants and marketers telling me that I should eat fall foods when I want to eat all of the summer foods that are still in season. I wasn’t trying to tell you what to eat :)

    • josh says:

      is this statement for real or are you just joking because your attitude is disgusting. get a grip on reality. you sound like you’re a rebellious teen. ” I’m not going to let some person tell me how to eat.” “We don’t need someone to tell us what to eat and when.” the lady is trying to give you some info take it or leave it, you don’t need to complain about someone in the know trying to kindly give you information… read your comment again and think to yourself “was that statement warranted or do i sound like a 16 yr old kid whose parents told them they couldnt go hang with their friends” who knows maybe you are a teenager??

  7. Pingback: Find Out What Fruits and Vegetables Are in Season in Your Area Now – Eat Drink Better

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