Matt Fry//Photo by Alexis Haggerty

Have you ever noticed that Georgia’s vegetables taste different depending on the time of year you eat them? I was a little surprised to hear how excited our friends at Fry Farm were when they announced their first frost of the season last week. In my mind, cold weather has always been a threat to crops. And it definitely can be. But according to Matt Fry, many plants are proactively working at a cellular level to protect themselves against the cold, a process which also happens to enhance their sweetness.

“Cool season crops convert their starches to sugar to protect against freezing temperatures. As such, the veggies taste much sweeter and have a superior flavor,” said Fry. Vegetables that fall into this category include greens like kale, spinach, mustards, and chard as well as many root crops like carrots, beets, and turnips. Most of these crops are grown before and after the first frost, so you can really taste the difference within a period of a couple weeks. Having trouble getting your kid to eat vegetables? Just wait until the frost to introduce them to new greens and roots; it will absolutely make a difference.

Ashley Rodgers//Photo by Alexis Haggerty

Growing up in North Carolina, Fresh Harvest farm manager Cody Burnette, remembers his family’s excitement around the coming cold. Akin to Christmas, the family waited eagerly for those frosty sweet collards each year. This Southeastern seasonality is so different from central and southern California, where most of our grocery store produce originates. The predictably moderate year-round climates of these areas lead to consistent flavors that rarely fluctuate due to weather.

For some, this is a preferable way of eating. A carrot is simply a carrot. But to many others of us, there’s something exciting about the complexity of a changing flavor profile. It can be a profound experience to realize that two leaves of chard harvested from the same field only a week apart taste noticeably different. So take a moment to savor the sweetness this season, and may it bring a welcome surprise on the coldest days.

Cool Weather Greens//Photo by David Melton