Sure, spring and summer seem like prime months for salads. The days are hot, the fruit is ripe, not to mention that we’re all trying to get back into swimsuits. Salads and spring and summer just go together.

But don’t sleep on all the beautiful variety of salads that you can make this fall. When the days a getting a little shorter and the nights are getting a little cooler, it’s all too easy to start hitting those starchy casseroles and creamy soups. But there is a wealth of natural, nutritious produce out there, just waiting to make it to your salad bowl as the calendar tips to fall. 

Have you heard of seasonal eating? It’s when you focus on foods that are in season in your area of the country during a particular time on the calendar. Health experts tell us that there are many health benefits to seasonal eating. One of the primary advantages of seasonal eating is that it will naturally encourage you to eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. Seasonal eating mainly focuses on fruits and vegetables that are in season, although there are some people who choose to rotate their sources of animal protein throughout the year as well. 

As it turns out, it’s also helpful to the environment when you choose seasonal eating. This is because fruits and vegetables have natural growth and harvesting cycles in the environments in which they were intended to grow. In modern agriculture, we often force certain crops to mature rapidly or we grow certain crops in environmental conditions and soil that are not natural to their species. By going to seasonal eating for the region you live in, it can mean that you’re eating foods that are not forced by chemicals or other unnatural processes. 

You can learn more about seasonal produce in your area by clicking here. And you can find more general lists of which fruits and vegetables grow naturally in which season on this chart.

During this time of the year, be sure to look for natural sources of apples, cranberries, squash, figs, grapes, and pears. Beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are also crops that mature in the fall. As you gather items for fall salads, keep these types of fruit and vegetables in mind to enhance your seasonal eating approach. Lettuce, kale, and Swiss shard mature during this time as well and make for a great base for your autumn salads. 

Sonja and Alexhiser feature fifteen fantastic fall salads on their website A Couple of Cooks. These salads are hearty, stick with the seasonal eating approach, and are fast and simple on busy school nights. A couple of favorites around here are the Butternut Squash Salad and this tangy Brussel Sprout Salad

It’s important to remember that just because you’re finding a certain kind of produce in your grocery store, perhaps even in the organic section, doesn’t mean it’s produce that is keeping with seasonal eating. Once you know what to be looking for from the season produce charts that are linked above, that can help you in your search. Price is also an indicator of what’s naturally in season and what isn’t. If you see a price jump on certain items, it most likely means that you’re looking at something that had to be highly managed to produce, meaning that it’s not in season. For example, if you find watermelon at your grocery store in January, and it’s pretty pricey, it’s probably not something that was grown in a natural seasonal environment. Check out your local farmer’s market for produce that is in keeping with the natural harvest times. Look for produce in your grocery store that is sourced locally. Your body and the environment will thank you!

Julie Lyles Carr is a best-selling author, podcaster, and entrepreneur living in Austin, Texas, with her husband Mike Carr. They have eight kids, two unfriendly cats, and an antique dachshund.