Since the Medieval era asparagus has been praised as a harbinger of spring. However, its history as a food source and medicineextends back much further than that. Ancient Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried it for use during the winter. It even appears in artistic friezes from Egypt, pictured as an offering, dating as far back 3000 BC!
Today, asparagus continues to be enjoyed all over the world. It is featured in Asian, European, and North and South American cuisine. Michigan alone produces up to 25 million pounds of asparagus each year, ranking third in the nation. One quarter of that crop is sold fresh while the rest is usually frozen or canned.
Why is Asparagus Good for Me?
Because of its many health properties and its rich nutrients, asparagus has been enjoyed as a vegetable and in medicine for millennia.
Asparagus has plenty of great nutritional qualities – here are a few star points:
- It’s low in calories – less than 4 calories per spear!
- A good source of potassium.
- A source of fiber (3 grams per serving).
- A significant source of vitamin B6, which aids in metabolism, brain health, and liver detoxification.
- One of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.
- Excellent source of vitamin K, a vitamin found in dark green (usually leafy) vegetables that promotes healthy microbiota in the gut
Where Can I buy Michigan Asparagus?
Asparagus is a popular spring and summertime dish, so it’s usually available at your regular grocery (just make sure you check the label to ensure it was produced in Michigan and that it’s organic). Michigan asparagus season usually runs from early May through mid June. However, it’s always fun to meet the people who cultivated the Asparagus in person. Shopping at your local Farmer’s Market is a great way to foster that relationship, as well as to maintain a closer relationship with the food you are buying for yourself and your family. Here’s a link that will help you find a Farmer’s Market in your area – there are hundreds in Michigan! Aren’t we lucky?
How Should I Eat My Asparagus?
Asparagus is a spring favorite for many, and a really easy vegetable to prepare. It can be simply steamed, sautéed, or grilled and seasoned it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
For more information about Michigan asparagus, visit the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board online.