August is Colorado Proud month. Colorado farmers have been preparing this bountiful harvest of produce for us since February and now is the time to enjoy it! Yes, of course, we have savored the grand offerings of all the wonderful cooler season greens, flower and root crops – lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, Chinese cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets, carrots, and their brethren – but the most awaited are the summer fruits. The sweet fruits are probably topmost for those hot summer days. Peaches, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, raspberries, strawberries, plums and apricots really slake the thirst on days when the sun feels oppressive.
We don’t often think of them as fruits but all the seed bearing, savory crops really spice up the menu. Summer squash, zucchini, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers hit the markets in July for summer grilling and refreshing salads. On the way soon are a wave of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and sweet corn to further round out your late summer meals.
And remember to add zing to the flavor with harvests of herbs. Basil with your tomatoes, cilantro in your fresh salsa and mint your iced tea are the stuff of high cuisine.
It has been said that most recipes start with the words, cut an onion. These pungent beauties are also in early harvest in August from Colorado fields and, now fully cured, garlic is in the marketplace ready for your kitchen.
You crave this mouthwatering harvest and farmers need your patronage. COVID-19 has been very challenging for many of our fresh produce farmers in Colorado, sending direct to consumer growers scrambling to find other outlets through online sales platforms, farmers selling to restaurants or their distribution quickly pivoting to other wholesale accounts, and all worrying how to protect their workforce. Our local food system thrives only when people like you make buying its products a priority. For these growers to weather this massive business threat, they need you to spend your dollars on Colorado grown produce.
And what better way to boost your health and immune system during this pandemic than eating Colorado fruit and vegetables daily! Did you know that bell peppers have as much vitamin C as an orange? Just another great reason to keep your refrigerator stocked with Colorado produce in August and beyond.
Yes, that is the wonderful truth behind Colorado Proud Month, it actually continues through October! These same August produce items will continue into September and we’ll add to them a Southwest cuisine necessity, roasted chile peppers, and the beginning of fall winter squash harvest – delicata, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and more, the beginning of potato harvest, and the return of spring crops like lettuce, turnips, cabbage and more. By October we’ll see the return of spinach, the beginning of apple harvest and, of course, carving pumpkins.
Finally, how to find the all this amazing Colorado produce? For supermarket purchase, look for the Colorado Proud label. A simple web search will show you what this looks like. Additionally, some retailers will utilize their own point of sale labeling to indicate produce is from Colorado. For direct to consumer outlets, look at the directory listings on the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association website at coloradoproduce.org on the Colorado Grown page. CFVGA has of the best produce availability calendars on their Nutrition and Health page.
With all this fresh bounty, there is no wonder Colorado Department of Agriculture has declared August the official month of Colorado Proud.
Food is part of what brings joy to our lives. We’ve all suffered in different ways through this pandemic. In the quest for joy, sometimes all we can access are the small things. I hope Colorado produce on your plate brings you joy.
By Adrian Card, Colorado State University Extension. For more information on agriculture in Boulder County, visit the CSU Extension Boulder County website at boulder.extension.colostate.edu/agriculture.