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Living Loving Local Asparagus

 

Asparagus is like the tulip of spring vegetables. It is one of the first green edibles to be commercially harvested in our northern climate.  For locavores it evokes the promise of the delicious harvest season to come.

History:

For centuries, asparagus was considered a luxury and praised for its distinctive flavour by such famous figures as Julius Caesar, Louis XIV, and Thomas Jefferson.   The ancient Greeks loved wild asparagus, but it was the Romans who first cultivated it nearly 2,500 years ago!

Despite this, no one is quite sure where asparagus originated. Some believe it derived from a wild plant native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas.

Health Benefits:

Green, white or purple, asparagus contains folacin, thiamin, vitamins C, A and B6 and is a leading source of the antioxidant glutathione.

Farming Fun:

  • A member of the edible lily family, perennial asparagus plants grow for 8 to 15 years, but don’t produce a harvest for the first 3 years.
  • Thicker stalks are harvested from more mature plants.
  • GREEN asparagus has color because of a process called ‘photosynthesis.’
  • WHITE asparagus is actually green asparagus that the farmer mounds soil on top of so that it cannot preform photosynthesis and hence won’t turn green.
  • PURPLE asparagus is sweeter than green asparagus.

Fun Facts:

  • Purple asparagus reverts to green when cooked.
  • White asparagus turns pink when exposed to sunlight.
  • Everyone makes “asparagus pee” but not everyone can smell it. A portion of the population has a genetic inability to detect the sulfurous compounds that asparagus produces in urine.

Living Loving Local Recipes

Here are a few of the delicious local recipes our chefs are featuring this month.

Resources:

Foodland Ontario

Asparagus Farmers of Ontario

 

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