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Featured Ingredient: Asparagus

Posted by Corinne Monaco at Apr 29, 2020 09:18 AM |
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Our vendors work hard to bring you the specialty products that you enjoy at your neighborhood farmers market. Each week, we celebrate the fruits of their labors by highlighting one of our favorite market treats and diving into the history and science behind them. This week, we took a closer look at Asparagus.

Asparagus is a springtime classic and for good reason. Its crunchy texture and refreshing flavor go well in everything from salads to the grill. As an added bonus, its green to purple hombre ending in an edible flower is beautiful to look at, and adds texture and color to your plate.  

          Alvarez_Asparagus

Humanity has loved asparagus for around 2000 years, and archeologists believe ancient Egyptians harvested it for medicinal purposes. It is thought to have originated as a crop in Eastern Mediterranean countries, with wild varieties found across Africa. Roman emperor Ceasar Augustus was a big fan of asparagus. Want someone to get a move on? Try shouting velocius quam asparagi coquantur!—or "faster than you can cook asparagus!" The Roman phrase roughly means, "get a move on!" and is thought to have been coined by Emperor Augustus himself. Though asparagus is a breeze to cook, it's long-game to farm. From seed to harvest, it can take up to three years for an asparagus plant to be ready to eat. That may be why it is on a shortlist of perennial vegetables regularly featured on American tables, including artichokes, capers and rhubarb. 

Farmers who need an extra hand in the fields take note: apparently, chickens are excellent at farming asparagus. Rick and Marilyn Stanley of Chick Farm in Wells in Maine worked with the University of Maine to study the effects of releasing chickens into their asparagus fields. As chickens foraged, weed growth was reduced by a full 90% with no adverse effects on the cops! Way to go chickens!  

You can typically find asparagus at Growing Washington (all), Canales Produce (all), Tonnemaker Farm (all), and Alvarez Organic Farms (all). During market closures, visit the Shopper Sourcing Guide on the homepage of www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org to learn how you can support market farmers and get your hands on spring goodies like asparagus. You'll also find a link to donate to the Good Farmer Fund, there to support farmers during periods of hardship. All contributions are welcome and appreciated! 

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