In the grocery business, the summer months can be slower than at other times of the year. After all, the summer is an excellent time to go on vacation, spend your afternoons at the beach and grill dinner in your backyard. We feel that way too! That’s why at my store, as well as at Whole Foods Market stores across the country, we bring summer treats like cookouts, farmers’ markets and other fun stuff right to our customers all summer long. Every Friday afternoon, my Wayland, MA, store features a farmers’ market with local produce. Run by our Produce Assistant Team Leader John, customers can pick from amazing local corn, tomatoes and many other seasonal treats available that week. John shares his expertise with anyone who has a question, and trust me, he has the answers. He works closely with our local farms — Davidian and Atlas — to bring in the best of the best. And here’s a special tip from our Produce Team Leader: “I can’t think of anything better or more consistent than white nectarines this summer. I have been eating them all season and I haven’t had a bad one in the bunch. Crisp and refreshing — really delicious!” On Saturdays, we have weekly grilling events featuring items like our 10 for 10 hamburger patties, new seafood sausages, steamed clams and veggie burgers. Our customers come for the food and stay to chat with our Prepared Foods Team Leader Jimmy and Assistant Team Leader Jaimee. Jaimee is taking part in our Whole Planet Foundation Volunteer Program and traveling to Guatemala this fall, and she loves to tell our customers all about it. Periodically during the summer we throw a block party, encouraging everyone to come out and spend some time in the sun, enjoy some food and stay awhile. Most recently we held a Customer Appreciation Day, during which we cooked up free sliders, set up a face painting booth and got out the sidewalk chalk for the kids to play with. We bring in local vendors to sample their products, and we crank up the tunes — it is a party after all. Events like this allow us to really connect with our customers and chat about what they like to eat or cook in the summer. In turn, we get to show our nerdy foodie sides and to share our “inside information” on what we think is most delicious in the summer months. For example, our In-Store Educator Susan loves eating watermelon: “It reminds me of being a kid, it’s a little messy with all of its delicious juice and it’s just so refreshing.” And Donna, our Assistant Store Team Leader, says: “Local bread and butter corn from Davidian Farms is my favorite thing to eat in the summer. I soak it quickly in water and put it on the grill still in the husk. When the husk gets brown and the corn turns dark yellow, you know it’s done. Add a little butter and salt and eat up!” For me, I’ve recently discovered butter beans and have started making a really simple summer salad: butter beans, fresh chopped basil, tomatoes and peppers mixed with just a touch of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Marinated in the fridge for a few hours, this salad just pops with flavor (and you can eat a huge bowl without feeling guilty or worrying about looking good at the beach!). While everyone reading this may not be in my neck of the woods, I know that the Whole Foods Market store in your area is cranking up the summer party too. Hope you take the time to enjoy it. Got a favorite summer food? I’d love to hear what it is!