What’s in Season for Fall
Wherever you call home, follow our guide to what's ripe right now at a farmer's market near you.
Cooler weather doesn’t have to mean comfort food: Autumn has officially ushered in a whole new crop of fresh fruits and vegetables that are so nutritious, they‘ll go head-to-head with summer’s heirloom tomatoes and organic berries. Here, a few insider recommendations from top farmer’s markets across the country to serve as seasonal inspiration for healthy fall meals.
The Market: The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles
The Find: Pomegranates
Why Buy: Arils – small sacks inside pomegranates filled with bright red juice and seeds– are the only edible part of the fruits. While pomegranate juice is famous for its antioxidants, enjoying it in aril-form adds fiber – 3 grams per half cup, to be exact– making it an even better choice. To remove the arils, slice a pomegranate in half, submerge in a bowl of cold water, and bend the skin back to release the seeds, which will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle seeds on yogurt to add crunch without the calories of granola.
The Market: Union Square Greenmarket
The Find: Brussels sprouts
Why Buy: These cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinates, compounds that may help fight cancer and trigger your body to release detoxifying enzymes. Thanks to a wildly popular run in the restaurant scene the past few years, Brussels have received a well-deserved reputation re-boot from chefs who have proven that the sprouts can be delicious simply roasted and salted. When shopping, look for Brussels sprouts sold on large stalks to get the freshest ones; snap off of the stalks before storing in the refrigerator.
The Market: The Dupont Circle FRESHFARM
The Find: Heirloom Fingerling Potatoes
Why Buy: Heirloom potatoes come in an array of colors, from white and yellow to red and purple. Pick the purple varieties for their anthocyanins: The pigments that lend the spuds their purple hue and also act like antioxidants to help fight off cancer. Fingerling potatoes have firm, waxy flesh that holds up well when cooked, so try them boiled and tossed with salad dressing as a quick side, or roasted with a bit of olive oil and salt.
The Market: Islington Farmers Market
The Find: Wild game
Why Buy: Because wild animals such as pheasant, venison, and rabbit are more active than farm-raised animals, their meat is actually quite lean – wild game has fewer calories, fat and saturated fat than their grocery store counterparts. Some people describe the flavor as too “gamey” for their tastes; try marinating meat in a flavor-infused oil before roasting.
The Market: New Canaan Farmers Market
The Find: Apples
Why Buy: This year, Connecticut is boasting one of New England’s record crops, so the sweet, crisp fruits are bound to be abundant – and inexpensive – at markets. About 50 percent of the phytonutrients in apples are found in the skin, but apple exteriors also have one of the highest levels of pesticide residue of any fruit, according to the Environmental Working Group. Be sure to buy organic so you can eat the skin without worry.
The Market: Green City Market
The Find: Sweet potatoes
Why Buy: Your body converts the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes into vitamin A, making it a top source of the nutrient – a medium sweet potato has about 500% of immunity-boosting, skin-protecting vitamin A. Bake whole sweet potatoes and stuff with arugula, dried cranberries, and feta cheese for a healthier take on a classic loaded baked potato.
The Market: Ramsey Farmers Market
The Find: Winter squash blossoms
Why Buy: Though you might be more familiar with the bright yellow blooms plucked from overly-abundant zucchini plants in the summer, winter squash have blossoms too. Shoppers at this New Jersey market fill bags with the colorful blossoms each fall. They’re highly perishable, so if you get your hands on some, be sure to use them quickly: Try the blossoms chopped and mixed into scrambled eggs for a slightly sweet flavor and a pop of color.
The Market: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
The Find: Pears
Why Buy: Pears are a serious source of fiber: A single pear has a quarter of the fiber you’ll need in a day. Asian and Bosc pears are particularly plentiful at this Northern California market. Try thinly sliced Asian pairs layered on a sandwich with almond butter for a healthier take on PB&J, or sautee Bosc pears with a bit of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon for a naturally sweet dessert. A pear ripens from the inside out so to choose a ready-to-eat one, press lightly on the neck, and go for one that gives just slightly but is not completely soft.
The Market: Dewey Square Market
The Find: Cranberries
Why Buy: Massachusetts ranks second in the country for cranberry production, growing about 2 million barrels per year, so it’s no surprise that these little red gems are popular beyond the Thanksgiving table here. A cup of cranberries has just 46 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and almost a quarter of the vitamin C you need for the day. Toss them in to your next apple crisp for an extra hit of nutrients or finely chop and mix with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a tangy, flavorful salad dressing.
The Market: St. Lawrence Market
The Find: Cauliflower
Why Buy: Don’t let the pale exterior fool you – cauliflower is packed with the same nutrients as its bright-green brethren broccoli, including vitamin C, folate and potassium. The stem and the floret are both edible, so prep is simple: Slice into evenly-sized pieces, toss with olive oil and roast to bring out the vegetable’s slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
The Market: Coppell Market
The Find: Beets
Why Buy: Beets contain naturally-occurring nitrates that can help increase oxygen flow and aid workouts. Juice raw beets to get the most benefit, or roast them whole to slice over salads with arugula, fennel and goat cheese. For an added bonus, buy beets with greens still attached – they are as nutritious as Swiss chard and can be removed, rinsed, and sautéed with oil and garlic.
The Market: Pinecrest Garden Farmers Market
The Find: Avocados
Why Buy: Unlike California’s rich, buttery Haas avocados, Florida’s avocado varieties such as Choquette, Hall and Lulu, have less oil so they’re lower in fat and have about 25% fewer calories. Plus, like their California counterparts, the fat that Florida avocados do have is mostly the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind. Their firmer, drier texture means Florida avocados are not ideal for dishes like guacamole, but are better sliced in a sandwich or on a salad.