Asparagus

Perhaps the earliest depiction of asparagus existed on an Egyptian frieze dating back to 3,000 BC.  As far back as (approximately) 160 BC, asparagus is mentioned in writing. Cato the Elder, a Roman statesman, wrote instructions on how to plant asparagus in his manuscript “De Agri Cultura” (On Farming or On Agriculture).  It’s said that Queen Nefertiti proclaimed asparagus to be the food of the Gods.  Romans, in the 1st century B.C. became the first to preserve the vegetable by freezing it in the Alps.

Seed-grown asparagus results in a 50/50 mix of male and female plants.  The flowers look slightly different between the two and the female plants produce a red berry, a diversion of energy from vegetative growth that makes them less productive per acre.  For this reason, the main commercial asparagus varieties are genetic male clones.

Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.  An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.  A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.

White asparagus is not genetically induced in any way.  Instead, the lack of pigment in albino spears results from the absence of sunlight.  Farmers pile soil over the emerging spears and cut them off from below to produce the ghostly novelty.  Purple asparagus, on the other hand, is a genetic variety.  But don’t get too excited—it reverts to green when cooked.

Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin.  Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium.

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