How are vegitables sold all year round?



Potatoes take 2-4 months to grow and are usually only planted between March and May. How are there enough to sell in any of the other months?

In: Earth Science

Potatoes specifically hold up well in cold storage and can be shelved for months.

More generally, the growing season is inverted in the Southern Hemisphere so some crops that are difficult to store are cultivated in multiple locations around the world to try and overlap seasons.

There are also greenhouse and sub-optimal condition methods to keep produce available when it’s out of season in both hemispheres, but you may find that these out-of-season fruits and vegetables have been negatively impacted by poor growing conditions. Out-of-season apples are quite mealy.

The growing season varies based on where in the world you live. A lot of American produce comes from Mexico, which is closer to the equator and warm year round. The south and west also have longer growing seasons than the north. Between all this, there are enough harvests to cover the needs.

It depends a lot on the vegetable. Some, like root vegetables, can be stored for many months. Some, like lettuce and celery, can be grown almost year-round in places with a mild winter climate (like California and Florida, in the US). Some, like tomatoes and cucumbers, are grown in greenhouses almost year-round. Many fruits and a few vegetables that need a winter climate to grow, are grown in the southern hemisphere (especially Chile), where the seasons are reversed.

There’s a huge amount of logistics and technology that goes into making sure you always have a consistent selection of produce at the supermarket, but even so, you’ll probably find that the price and quality aren’t so great in the late winter and early spring.

There are ways to store many vegetables and fruits for longer periods of time — the average grocery store apple was picked over a year ago. Potatoes are also very hearty and can be stored for long periods of time. This is done through temperature, humidity, air mixture to slow or speed up ripening (I toured a produce distributor a couple years ago, and they had multiple banana rooms to take a giant shipment picked at same time and be able to spread them out over weeks in terms of ripening).

There are also ways to source from different regions of the world where growth seasons differ. Potatoes may come from Idaho for half the year and Peru the other half the year. For example, I notice that when I buy blueberries (which can’t be stored long term), they come from South America in the winter, the Southern US in early spring, and then gradually seem to move north… so March and April blueberries are from Florida, May and June ones from Georgia and South Carolina, July and August ones from Michigan.

Mostly cold storage. Sometimes imports and sometimes enclosed farmlands.

The harvesting season is still a huge thing but loses it’s importance with time. We can preserve our food with cold storage. Think them like bigger fridges, large enough to take huge amounts of food to supply entire cities with it.

Imports are also a factor. There are many places that have warmer climates and they have more sunny and hot days in a year. This is crucial to grow vegetables. In short, the farmers in these kind of climates can double harvest.

Enclosed farmlands allow you to create your own climate. You can adjust the heat of the farmland and produce anything as long as you have the right soil characteristics and enough water.

Some are stored for a long time. Potatoes can be stored for months. Some are grown in different countries. It might be -40 here in Canada, but in Mexico, it’s still above freezing. And there are greenhouses which can produce veggies even in the -40 Canadian winters.