In Season: The Summer Of Squash

No other crop proves small local producers can still compete with giant, far-reaching agribusinesses better than summer squash. The plant is hardy, and it is prolific — producing multiple crops in a single season and flourishing in wide ranges of climate conditions and temperature zones. 

Click here to see the In Season: The Summer of Squash Slideshow

Summer squash, like the earlier pea crops of spring, is a crop that enables growers to deliver more dynamic varieties of vegetables — thereby perpetuating plant diversity. Often, even the same variety will have different culinary characteristics, depending on where in the U.S. it is grown. It's this diversity I look forward to in squash and other classes of vegetables — whether it's a new hybrid or heirloom, it seems almost every year we discover (or rediscover) a plant type with promise.

Summer squash is also great for a wide variety of cooking techniques and dishes — from simple sautés and grilling to more complex stuffed and baked dishes or breads. It's rare for me to end the summer without a new way to prepare summer squash — last year was all about scaloppini squash stuffed with tomatoes and Parmesan, brushed with olive oil and grilled over indirect heat. Mostly, though, out in my garden as I remove the first fuzzy, young specimens — most with the bright yellow blossom still attached — I'll smile as I think about how this simple action will be repeated all over the country. In gardens and farms big and small, it's harvest time (or will be soon) for the great equalizer of summer.   

James Parker, global associate perishables coordinator for Whole Foods Market