This story all started with a fact that made us scratch our heads.
Florida is one of the biggest producers of...tupelo honey? (So declared a recent New York Times article.)
For many of us, tupelo honey conjures the Van Morrison song before it even conjures images of the substance itself. But the Sunshine State is one of tupelo honey’s main homes.
Florida makes about 15 times as much tupelo honey as Georgia, The New York Times reported, the other major state where tupelo trees are grown.
Thinking about all that honey made us wonder: Are there other obscure foods grown or produced in Florida? Obviously, we associate the state with citrus and seafood. But what else?
Here’s a list of vegetables, fruits and other products that come from Florida. They may surprise you.
Next time you have a Greek salad, think about this: In 2017, Florida ranked first in the U.S. in value of production of cucumbers, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.
In 2017, the state was responsible for 38 percent of the U.S. value for processed cucumbers with about $97 million worth. Florida also produced 32 percent of the country’s fresh market cucumbers at a value of $76.3 million.
Florida actually ranks second in the U.S., based on 2017 data, for the value of their production of your favorite summer fruit, watermelon. In 2017, Florida produced 23 percent of the nation’s watermelon at a value of $136 million.
Despite being an iconic summer fruit, Florida is actually the only state in the country that can grow watermelon from December to April, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences site.
In 2017, Florida was responsible for 10 percent of the country’s strawberries for a value of $337 million, ranking it second for the country’s value of production of the popular fruit. The No. 1 state is California.
Florida was also first in the U.S. in the value of production of grapefruit, according to 2017 data.
Florida grew a whopping 54 percent of the country’s grapefruit in 2017, which is valued at $136 million.
But the industry is declining with the rise of citrus greening. Japan used to consume about as much grapefruit as the United States, a country with a population three times its size. And much of that grapefruit came from Florida.
That trade has diminished from 12.1 million cartons of grapefruit a year in 2003-04 to 1.58 million cartons only 13 years later.
Florida produced about 17 percent of the country’s squash in 2017, at a value of $29.7 million. While that amount may seem small, the state ranked first in the U.S. in value of the production of squash.
Squash can be hard to grow, particularly in the summer, but Florida gardeners have obviously had some success with it.
In 2017, Florida was responsible for 32 percent of the country’s fresh market bell peppers at a value of $206 million.
Where are bell peppers most commonly grown in Florida? Right here in Hillsborough County, as well as Collier, Manatee, Hendry and Palm Beach counties.
No surprise here. Florida ranked first in the U.S. in value of production of oranges in 2017, the fruit you probably expected. Florida accounted for 56 percent of the U.S. value of oranges at a value of more than $1 billion.
But Florida’s orange production actually decreased by 16 percent from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017. The state accounted for 45 percent of the total U.S. citrus production in the 16-17 season, providing 78.1 million boxes of citrus.
Florida was ranked fourth nationally in the value of production of peanuts in 2017. The state produced about 9 percent of the country’s peanuts, worth about $154 million.
Peanuts are grown commercially in only 15 states, according to the Florida Peanut Producers Association. But the southeast region of the peanut-producing states, encompassing Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, is responsible for 72 percent of peanuts grown in the U.S. based on 2013 data.
Peanuts can be planted in north and central Florida from March through May, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
From 1997 to 2016, Florida produced almost 200 million pounds of blue crab. That’s a lot of crab. Stone crab is less prolific, at about 100 million pounds of meat.
Crab was the third highest Florida seafood species in dollars in 2016. The state’s crab production had a dockside value of more than $43 million.
In 2016, the grouper produced by the state of Florida had a value of almost $21 million. Fried grouper sandwiches are a Florida classic.
Between 1997 and 2016, Florida has produced more than 116 million pounds of grouper.
If you’re a tourist coming to Florida, or a Floridian who has hosted a tourist, chances are you’ve heard them say: “I want to get some fresh seafood.” But the stats tell a different story. In 2016, Florida actually ranked 11th in U.S. states for fresh seafood production.
The seafood most commonly produced in Florida is shrimp.
About $52 million worth of shrimp was produced in 2016 from Florida. From 1997 to 2016, more than 220 million pounds of pink shrimp have come from Florida.
The largest producer of seafood in Florida in 2018 was Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys. Both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties ranked in the top five seafood producing counties in Florida, as well.