Love What’s Growing Locally | Whole Foods Market

Summer is the perfect season to explore local fruits and vegetables. With tasty new offerings springing up every day, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to try, but we’re here to help.

If you love the convenience of one-stop shopping, our stores carry local produce at its peak and the offerings vary from store to store. Chat up your produce team to find out what’s available where you live. Tip: to keep summertime around all year long, employ your trusty freezer. Just remember to clean and dry produce thoroughly before storing in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag.

White Bean and Spinach Salad

White Bean and Spinach Salad


  • The northeast is a hotbed for late spring and summer foraging.
  • Garlic and onions scapes (the growth shoots of the planted bulb) must be trimmed in order to encourage the growth of the planted garlic and onion bulbs. Lucky for us they make a perfect pesto or addition to a summer sauté.
  • Wild garlic and leeks (called ramps) might still be available in cooler areas.
  • Creamy cooked shelling beans, like fresh cranberry beans, will certainly convert bean-abstainers to serious fans.

Summer Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Summer Chicken and Vegetable Soup


  • You may already have sweet corn and tomatoes in this region. Zip raw corn off the cob for an instant salad or impromptu topping for grilled goodies and consider canning your famous salsa or fresh tomato sauce for use year round.
  • Okra loves hot weather and is excellent sliced raw for veggie salads or stewed in summer soups.
  • Juicy, perfumed peaches enjoy a nice long season in the South. Be sure to eat as many as you can fresh, but also try them grilled or frozen and blended into smoothies.
  • Cactus paddles and prickly pears are edible Southwest fare that can be eaten raw or even whipped into an unusual ice cream. Be sure to handle fresh cacti with care.

Spiced Pickled Cherries

Spiced Pickled Cherries


  • Strawberries are at their peak right now. Find a “you pick” farm and load up.
  • Blueberries, both cultivated and wild, are stalwarts of summertime. Wild blueberries are tiny and ultra sweet – save them for special baked goods and jams.
  • Sour cherries are perfect for pickling or making into jam.
  • Summer squash abounds, but don’t forget about the edible flowers that bloom at the tips of the squash. Pick the “male” flowers that are on a longer stem, as the “female” flowers will develop into squash.

Raw Vegetable "Pasta" with Tomatoes and Herbs

Raw Vegetable “Pasta” with Tomatoes and Herbs


  • Look for specialty berries like mulberries, gooseberries and huckleberries.
  • Cardoons are celery-like plants from the artichoke family. Try them braised in a dry white wine.
  • Seabeans are a salty, crunchy summer treat that can be tossed raw into salads, or pop them in a grill basket and cook them alongside the rest of dinner.

What local specialties are you enjoying now? Share your favorite summer treats in the comments section below.


Value of Washington organic farm crops rising, acreage shrinking

KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) — For the first time, people seek out Gary Middleton to buy his organic fruit.

That’s something that has taken Middleton, who farms about 100 acres of organic apples, cherries and blueberries near Eltopia, about 13 years to accomplish, and is among the reasons he plans to continue to stay organic.

The number of organic acres farmed in the state is dropping, from almost 105,000 in 2009 to an estimated 88,100 in 2012, according to a recent study by Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

But the value of the state’s organic crops is rising.

It grew by 20 percent from 2010-11, to $284.5 million, the study said. That’s the highest value in seven years.

Eastern Washington counties accounted for about 82 percent of that value.

Some of the drop in acreage may be because farmers have realized the amount of work, expense and challenge involved with farming organically, said Middleton of Middleton Organic Orchards.

Organic agriculture is more labor-intensive, requiring hand thinning and hand weeding, he explained. At the peak, when blueberries and cherries are harvested simultaneously, he’ll need about 250 people.

Organic prices have to be high enough to cover those increased costs.

“I love being an organic farmer, but it still comes down to economics,” he said.

Organic farmers don’t use herbicides, and are limited in the pesticides and fertilizers they can use.

Middleton uses compost for fertilizer, which requires more planning when it comes to nutrients. It doesn’t deliver as much nitrogen as fast as synthetic products.

But organic agriculture seems a good fit for stewardship of the land, he said. He’s noticed that the beneficial insects, including bees and ladybugs, have increased.

Most of the blueberries still were green last week, although a few showed a hint of a bluish-purple hue.

Middleton’s irrigation system was going on and off in a 15-minute rotation to cool his apples and blueberries and to suppress sunburn.

The blueberry and cherry harvests will likely start around the end of this month, Middleton said. Blueberries will be color-picked by hand, with the same bushes picked three to four times.

Middleton’s goal is to serve an “elite” fresh market, with stores like Costco and Whole Foods carrying his blueberries, he said.

Blueberry harvest can last a month, and cherry harvest can last for about 14 days, he said. His cherries, like others in the area, were hit by frost damage, slashing the expected yield.

After those harvests are complete, Middleton and his crew will move on to the Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples. Frost also might affect those yields, but he said the blueberries seemed to come through the cold — which dropped as low as 23 degrees — just fine.

Increasing yields from fruit trees could be a part of why the value of the state’s organic crops continue to grow, said David Granatstein, a sustainable agriculture specialist at WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Granatstein completed the WSU study with Elizabeth Kirby, a sustainable agriculture research associate.

It’s also possible that some fruit that was sold as conventional because of better prices is now being sold as organic, Granatstein said.

Sales and prices of organic crops continue to increase, suggesting that the market is not saturated, he said.

Grant County continues to lead the state in organic production with about 22,000 acres and a 2011 crop value of $87.8 million, up about 37 percent from the year before.

Benton County has the second most acreage, at about 7,800 in 2012, down about 10 percent from the year before. The 2011 crop value was about $25.8 million, up 17 percent from the previous year.

Franklin County had an estimated 3,200 acres in 2012, a 2 percent drop. Yet value climbed by nearly 37 percent to $18 million.

Organic acres and sales for other area counties were:

* Adams County, relatively unchanged at about 2,500 organic acres in 2012, with value growing by nearly 37 percent to more than $6 million in 2011.

* Walla Walla County, down by 4 percent to about 2,200 acres in 2012, with value up 10 percent to $22 million.

* Yakima County, up 5 percent at about 5,700 acres in 2012, with value increasing 23 percent to $23.4 million in 2011.