The asparagus season is here once again! Many of us wait all year for locally grown fresh asparagus. Did you know here in Chatham-Kent we are the number two producer of asparagus in all of Ontario?
Asparagus is a stem vegetable. It’s a young edible shoot that grows out from an underground stem or rhizome that can produce asparagus for 15 to 20 years. Asparagus is picked in the spring while it is soft, fleshy and 15 to 20 centimetres long.
There are three different colours of asparagus: green, white and purple.
Green asparagus has colour because of a process called ‘photosynthesis.’ This is a process where plants use sunlight to produce chlorophyll, which gives them their green colour.
White asparagus is actually just green asparagus but the farmer mounds soil on top of the spears so they never see sunlight! So it does not perform ‘photosynthesis’ and therefore has no colour.
Purple asparagus is simply a variety of green asparagus that has a gene that makes it purple, even though it still uses photosynthesis. It is sweeter than green asparagus.
Choose young, tender asparagus with bright, shiny, crisp stalks. The tips should be short and slightly purple. A soft, yellowish or dried out stalk and an opened tip is a sign that the vegetable is not fresh.Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas. The name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language meaning “sprout” or “shoot”. The ancient Greeks loved wild asparagus, but it was the Romans who first cultivated it nearly 2,500 years ago.
The top asparagus producing countries are China, Peru, Germany, Mexico, Thailand and Spain. The United States (mainly California, Washington and Michigan) are seventh and Canada is 16th.
Asparagus has only four calories per spear and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, as well as folic acid, which is an essential vitamin for pregnant and nursing women.
Asparagus is also rich in rutin, a powerful antioxidant that may help our body prevent the risk of many diseases like some cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Asparagus is a diuretic. It brings about an increase in the excretion of chlorine and phosphate compounds. This dilutes the urine, which helps prevent renal and urinary tract inflammations.
So go and purchase some delicious and nutritious Chatham-Kent asparagus and try a few new recipes. Remember, green is good for you. But don’t delay – here today, but aspara-gone tomorrow.
With the spring planting season underway, this means farmers are moving large farm machinery on our local roads as they move from field to field. Please slow down and be very careful when you see these farm implements. Also, please be patient. Our farmers are just trying to do their job and not intentionally trying to slow you down. Thank you for your understanding.
June 5-11 is Local Food Week across all of Ontario, so here in Chatham-Kent, let’s celebrate our delicious and nutritious local food and our many local food producers. More details on this will be coming.
Think about this – Our faith in God is the radar to see through the fogs of life.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org