Buying fresh, local produce is about more than just supporting local farmers and cutting down on fossil fuels. It’s also about trying new things and experimenting in the kitchen. What’s local for us may not be local for you, but be sure to research which fruits & veggies are in season in your area and try something new! Eating well is never boring when you vary the meals you eat and discover new things. Here are 8 unique fruits and veggies that are in season this summer and some creative suggestions for how to use them!
Endive: Although it might look more yellow than green, endive is technically considered a leafy green and is high in B vitamins, often hard to find in plant-based foods.  Endive is traditionally enjoyed in salads, but it makes a fantastic chip-alternative if you are looking for something less processed to dip in that bowl of guac!
Rainier Cherries: Rainier cherries may be a little more expensive than regular cherries, but for good reason, they’re a hot commodity! In fact, about 1/3 of Rainiers grown are eaten by birds. They are also very sensitive to temperature, wind and rain.  These delicious cherries are fantastic on their own or added to a salad or to top a dessert. Definitely a must-have at least once each summer!
Mango: Mangoes are grown mostly in Mexico and abroad, but if you live in a tropical location like southern California, Florida, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, mangoes could be growing in your backyard!  Mangoes are extremely versatile and can be used in salsas, ice cream, as a topping for yogurt and cereal or even in baked goods!
Green Beans: Green Beans are technically a legume (like beans and peanuts), but they have lots of healthy plant matter, making them an honorable veggie. Although we are most familiar with enjoying green beans as a side dish, they also can make a delicious, crunchy addition to your next sandwich or wrap!
Purple Sweet Potatoes: Shhh, we snuck another legume onto the list, but we can’t resist this beautifully colored sweet potato. Purple sweet potatoes are a bit denser and dryer than traditional sweet potatoes, so it’s best to cook them for a long time. Try them this summer on their own with a little butter or use them in a potato salad for a summer picnic conversation starter.
Apricots: Most of us are most familiar with apricots in their dried form. Dried apricots make a delicious treat or snack, but fresh apricots can be even more delicious and versatile! With ample nutrients and minerals, apricots have also been shown to help with digestion.  Fresh apricots make phenomenal additions to baked goods such as pies, pancakes, yogurt, chutney and more!
Watermelon: You can’t have a list of summer produce without mentioning watermelon, right? This classically summer fruit is hard to resist. Watermelon is refreshing, fun to eat and full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium.  No summer would be complete without enjoying watermelon in its original form, but mix it up this summer by adding it to a salad, smoothie or salsa!
Papaya: Papaya may look overwhelming… it’s big, strange looking and contains odd black seeds. But next time you see papaya at your local market, grab it! Papaya is extremely high in vitamin C and has been shown to improve digestion and boost immunity.  Try papaya in your morning smoothie or try roasting it in the oven with a little bit of cinnamon!
 “What Is Endive Good For?” FoodFacts. Mercola.com. Web. 6 June 2016.
 Chou, Hasia-Ching. “Rainier cherries are the peak of the crop”. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 23 June 2001. Web. 6 June 2016.
 “Mango Availability”. Mango.org. Web. 6 June 2016.
 “Health Benefits of Apricots. Organic Facts. Web. 6 June 2016.
 Swalin, Rachel. “5 Things You Didn’t Know about Watermelon”. Health. Time Inc. 1 July 2014. Web. 6 June 2016.
 Jha, Sameer. “11 Health Benefits of Papayas”. MSN. 1 March 2015. Web. 6 June 2016.