The Best Item Grown in Every U.S. State
What’s your state’s specialty?
By LINDSAY CHAMPION | OCT. 6, 2016
Few things make us feel as much like a grown-up with our life together as leisurely perusing our local farmers’ market. Whether it’s the sweet corn, blueberries or apples that catch our eye, it made it us wonder: What’s the best local item grown across the country? Here’s what we found grows best in every state.
Around the end of June, the entire north Alabama landscape blossoms with vines of plump, ripe blackberries—sweet (semi-tart) home Alabama.
Produce thrives during Alaska’s summer sun. In fact, the biggest green cabbage of all time—a freakishly enormous 138-pound vegetable reported by Guinness World Records—was grown in Palmer, Alaska, back in 2010.
You name it: Iceberg, Boston, butter or Bibb...Arizona’s got it.
Fun fact: Hillary Clinton told talk-show host Steve Harvey that the first thing she ever heard Bill talk about was watermelons from his home state.
Welcome to the land of the B-L-A-T sandwich. In fact, San Diego is the avocado capital of the country, so every time you bite into your avocado, nod your head to Cali.
Meet America’s newest cash crop…thanks to this Rocky Mountain state.
CONNECTICUT: ASIAN PEARS
Pear season isn’t long in Connecticut, but the crisp and sweet fruits are the best around. Head to Lyman Orchards or Bishops Orchards in September to pick your own.
It’s the state fruit for a reason. Tiny Delaware has about two dozen U-pick strawberry farms, like Walnut Springs, which are swarmed with pickers in the summer.
FLORIDA: HONEYBELL ORANGES
While most of the U.S. is freezing all winter, the Sunshine State is growing these juicy, seedless tangerine-grapefruit hybrids.
Monks first brought peaches to St. Simons and Cumberland Island back in the 157; today, the state grows over 40 different varieties. Aaand now we’re craving some peach pie.
You know you’re in a tropical paradise when you’re surrounded by pineapples.
IDAHO: RUSSET POTATOES
The key to these delicious spuds: rich, volcanic soil and a combo of warm days and cool nights. Talk about exclusive…
Where did you think all that tofu came from?
INDIANA: WINTER WHEAT
Hooray for carbs. These crops are planted during fall and meant to withstand freezing winter temperatures.
This Midwestern state produces about 2.5 billion bushels of corn per year. But don’t be fooled: Less than one percent is the type of sweet corn you eat on the cob.
This cereal grain looks a lot like corn when it grows. While typically used as a syrup or sweetener, today it’s often used as a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
It’s basically corn.
Why do you think the beignets taste so good?
There is no summer without fresh-picked Maine blueberries.
OK, not exactly produce, but blue crabs > fruits and vegetables. Plus, they’re farmed in the sea, which must count for something.
Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, in particular, is cranberry bog territory. The harvest for these tiny anti-oxidant rich fruits begins in September and ends before Thanksgiving.
The summer town of Traverse City, on Michigan’s northern coast, is known as the cherry capital of the states. In the spring, the landscape is covered with pink cherry blossoms, which ripen into sweet and tart cherries come June.
MINNESOTA: HONEYCRISP APPLES
The Honeycrisp apple, now a favorite across the country, was first developed at the University of Minnesota. In fact, the university gets a royalty every time an orchard plants a honeycrisp tree.
Grain corn, or maize, is essential to Mississippi’s southern comfort cooking. Take hot tamales, for example, a Mississippi Delta specialty typically made with pork filling wrapped in a dried corn husk. Mmmmmm.
This state produces more than 8 million tons of hay per year…aka a lot of happy cattle and horses.
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, and dried beans—like black, pinto, lentil and garbanzo—are also becoming an increasingly important crop in Montana.
NEBRASKA: SUGAR BEETS
If you have a sweet tooth, listen up. Sugar beets, which contain a high amount of sucrose in their roots, are used in sucrose production as a substitute for sugarcane.
NEVADA: ALFALFA SEED
You know those little sprouts that appear on your tuna sandwich or veggie wrap? Blame it on Nevada.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: PUMPKINS
It’s only natural that this state, known for its gorgeous fall foliage, would have some great pumpkin farms. In fact, one of the country’s best pumpkin festivals takes place in Keene each October.
NEW JERSEY: TOMATOES
Rutgers University is spearheading the effort to bring back the glory of the Jersey tomato with the development of the “Rutgers 250” plant, an old-fashioned tomato with an old-fashioned taste.
NEW MEXICO: GREEN CHILE PEPPERS
Chile peppers are a huge part of New Mexican culture—so much so that New Mexico State University has an entire department dedicated to the education and research of chile peppers. Which reminds us: Don’t visit Santa Fe without trying the green chile enchiladas at The Shed. (You’re welcome.)
NEW YORK: CORTLAND APPLES
The most emblematic apple in the apple state is the Cortland, a sweet-tart apple with a white, crisp interior that was developed in New York back in 1898.
NORTH CAROLINA: SWEET POTATOES
We shutter to imagine a world in which there are only regular potatoes. And with Thanksgiving approaching quickly, let’s take a second to thank North Carolina for some of fall’s most important produce.
NORTH DAKOTA: SUNFLOWERS
Is there anything as cheerful as bright, yellow fields of fields of sunflowers as far as the eye can see? Nope.
If you’ve never heard of a pawpaw, Ohio’s state fruit, you’re not alone. This semi-tropical plant is often described as a cross between a mango and a banana. We hear a smoothie calling our name.
Peanut butter! Cracker Jacks! Peanut M&Ms! Thank goodness for Oklahoma.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is one of the largest hops-producing areas in the world. So it makes total sense that Portland is one of the craft beer capitals of the U.S.
Kennett Square, a small town in Chester County, produces one half of America’s mushrooms—400 million pounds per year—made up of mostly portobellos and white mushrooms.
RHODE ISLAND: RI GREENING APPLES
The official fruit of the Ocean State is the perfect ingredient for an old-fashioned apple pie.
SOUTH CAROLINA: COLLARD GREENS
Thanks to South Carolina’s year-long moderate climate, this leafy green is one of the only vegetables that’s literally always in season.
SOUTH DAKOTA: FLAXSEED
Blend some of these seeds into your morning smoothie for all the fiber you need.
TENNESSEE: JACK DANIEL’S WHISKEY
Take a break from all those fruits and veggies. You deserve this.
Texas learned the art of pecan grafting and began farming the nuts commercially in the late 1800s. Pecan pie, anyone?
Barley has a bad rap for being a pretty unsexy grain, but remember: It’s used to make beer and whiskey.
VERMONT: MAPLE SYRUP
OK, we know maple syrup isn’t produce per sé, but it’s more essential to your pancakes than blueberries. And the Green Mountain State is home to hundreds of maple sugar houses that produce over a million gallons of syrup per year. Sweeeeet.
Fun fact: Virginia is one of the most prominent wine-producing states in the country. It’s home to great wineries (don’t miss Bluemont Vineyard and Pearmund Cellars) and more than two dozen grape varieties, which thrive in the state’s mountain region.
Washington State is the number one apple producer in the country, growing over 2.5 million tons every year. To put that in perspective, six out of every ten apples consumed in the U.S. come from Washington, according to the state’s Apple Commission.
WEST VIRGINIA: GOLDEN DELICIOUS APPLES
Today, you’ll find Golden Delicious apples across the country. But the first of these prevalent apple trees was found in Clay County, West Virginia, in 1914. The county still hosts an annual four-day Golden Delicious festival in September.
WISCONSIN: SWEET CORN
Wisconsin summer is synonymous with sweet corn. From June through August local farmers’ markets and produce stands are stocked with ears of bright yellow sweet corn.
Not produce, but hear us out: The reason Wyoming is home to so many grazers (cattle) is because of its favorable grasslands, which are basically produce for the cows. Boom!
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