April showers bring May flowers and May brings us National Asparagus Day on Tuesday, May 24. Asparagus is a vegetable that I hated as a child but have grown to love as an adult. It’s such a versatile vegetable and so good for you. It can be steamed, grilled, roasted and stir-fried; it’s a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Asparagus is an ancient vegetable. You can find mention of it dating back to 3000 B.C. The root word was Persian, asparag, meaning sprout or shoot which then morphed into sparagus in the 16 th century. Peasants called it “sparrow grass.” The vegetable found its way to North America with European settlers around 1655. In 1685 an ad for Pennsylvania listed it as a crop that did well in the American climate. Currently, the three states known for producing asparagus are Michigan, California, and Washington. In 2019, according to nationaltoday.com, the total production for the crop was just over 84 million pounds! It takes three years from seed to harvest, but once established, plants produce for decades. Picking, however, is labor intensive as each spear is hand picked. Workers excavate around each spear about nine inches into the soil and clip the spear at its base—hard work.
If you would like to celebrate asparagus in all its glory, consider attending the 36 th Annual Asparagus Festival in Stockton, California, on May 6 – 8.
The month of May brings us another national food obser- vance on May 10, National Shrimp Day. I have been a fan of shrimp since childhood! Another good-for-you-food, a three-ounce serving of shrimp has just 90 calories and almost 20 grams of protein, no carbs, low fat, vitamin B, iron and omega-3.
Shrimp and asparagus could be a match made in heaven. Here’s a recipe on Tasty.co for just one way to combine these two celebrated foods: Shrimp and Asparagus Stir Fry