Did you know that it's almost Florida blueberry season? Or that Manatee County is one of Florida's biggest growers of cabbage? Don't blame you. But thanks to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, you can be more informed than the rest of the mooks in the produce aisle.
The department's website (www.florida-agriculture.com/marketing/seasonal_availability.htm) has a crop-by-crop breakdown that lists the growing seasons and major production regions for almost every foodstuff harvested in Florida soil. Handy, even if the local mega-mart is still stocking California avocados at the height of local ripeness.
I was directed to the site when I complained to an area UF/IFAS extension employee that I wasn't looking forward to the long summer, when there would be nothing local to eat for many hot months. He called me an idiot. What about lychee, mango, papaya and guava, he asked?
Florida is blessed with the ability to produce a wide range of produce, and summer is prime time for those tropical fruits that can't grow in the most of the rest of the country. Sure, you can nosh on watermelon from North Carolina or tomatoes from California, but temper the carbon cost of shipping that stuff across country by picking out a few of the special local fruits that fit the steamy climate of Florida's summer.
And if you don't know what to look for, a quick glance at the Department of Agriculture website will educate you on what should be the freshest and brightest, every month of the year.