Asparagus is finally here, which is a sure sign of spring. Many people wait all year for local asparagus to appear at roadside stands and food stores. Did you know that here in Chatham-Kent we are the No. 2 producer of asparagus in all of Ontario?
My thanks go to the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (www.asparagus.on.ca) for the valuable information they provided for this article. You can also find some great asparagus recipes on their website.
Asparagus is a spring vegetable and a member of the lily family, which includes onions, garlic, leeks, turnips and gladioli. Asparagus shoots arise from underground “crowns” that are planted about inches inches deep. Under ideal weather conditions, an asparagus shoot, or “spear”, can grow 25 cm (10 inches) in a 24-hour period. If not harvested, the shoots grow into tall fern-like plants with small red seeds. Once the shoot starts to “leaf out,” the stems become woody and inedible. Asparagus is a long-lived crop that can be productive for 15 or more years if given proper care.
Asparagus comes in three colours, which are green, white and purple. Green asparagus has colour because of photosynthesis, the 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 and, as a result, do not perform photosynthesis and therefore have 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.
Today, the biggest asparagus-producing countries are China, Peru, Germany, Mexico, Thailand and Spain. The United States (mostly California, Washington and Michigan) are seventh and Canada is 16th in world production.
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, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.
Asparagus is also rich in rutin, a powerful antioxidant.
Asparagus is also 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.
It looks like asparagus is an amazing food that we need more, so why not buy some delicious and nutritious Chatham-Kent asparagus and try a few new recipes.
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 3-9 is Local Food Week across all of Ontario. So here in Chatham-Kent, let’s celebrate our delicious and nutritious local food and our amazing local food producers.
Think about this – When God seems so absent, He is very much present.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website atwww.wegrowfortheworld.com