John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Now is the time when the most fruits and vegetables are available.
Say you’re an ambitious chef who wants to create the world’s most flavorful ratatouille with every kind of fruit and vegetable. When is the best time to hit up one of New York’s farmers’ markets for all your eggplants, tomatoes, and chard?
That’d be September, according to Ben Wellington of I Quant NY. Wellington, the data explorer who’s mapped New York’s traffic accidents and poopy waterways, has crunched the numbers on the city’s Greenmarkets to show that this month is quantifiably the tops for fresh produce. (The idea was inspired by one of his students at Pratt, Katherine Savarese.) He writes:
You probably know that farmers markets are a staple across all five boroughs of New York City, but September happens to be a very special month. Why is that? Well, it turns out September is the month with the most unique types of fresh produce—forty three to be exact….
If you miss the month of September, you might be behind the fruit curve, but there are plenty more months of vegetables left. The chart shows that fresh vegetables are available 9 out of 12 months, but fruit is only available 5 out of 12. Now if only we could quantify how delicious the produce is…
Here’s the breakdown, which shows April is also the worst month for produce variety:
The only vegetables typically not at Greenmarkets this month are fennel, rhubarb, parsnips, turnip greens, and asparagus. For fruit it’s strawberries, cherries, currants, and blackberries. And September’s bounty doesn’t just include stuff growing from the dirt—now’s the best time for seafood availability, too, including bluefish, mackerel, bonito, and mussels.