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National Asparagus Day is celebrated on May 24, and we are ready to eat! Asparagus production in the United States is concentrated between three states: California, Michigan, and Washington, and it is best in the spring, making it the perfect cookout veggie. This versatile vegetable can be pan-seared, fried, baked, or grilled, and it is full of nutrients like fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
History of National Asparagus Day
Asparagus was an ancient vegetable. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it as offerings dating back to 3000 BC. They used the Persian word ‘asparag,’ which meant a shoot or sprout. The term ‘sperage’ became popular for many years and, in the 16th century, we find the term ‘sparagus’ used in English-speaking countries. Peasants called it ‘sparrow grass.’
Asparagus was brought to North America by European settlers as early as 1655. A Dutch immigrant to New Netherland, Adriaen van der Donck, refers to asparagus in his description of Dutch farming practices in the New World. This vegetable was also grown by British immigrants. In 1685, an advertisement for Pennsylvania by William Penn displaying a list of crops that grew well in the American climate included asparagus.
Currently, asparagus production in the United States is mainly in three states: California, Michigan, and Washington. In 2019, the national average asparagus yield was around 4,076 pounds per acre and the total asparagus production was 84.39 million pounds.
Asparagus can take three years to go from seed to harvest, but the plants will produce spears for decades, making it a great crop. However, it is quite labor-intensive, as farmworkers handpick each spear. They carefully excavate around each spear to a depth of nine inches and clip it at the base. That’s a lot of work!
Once seen as an offering for the gods, asparagus continues to be celebrated today. In 2019, Oceana County, Michigan celebrated its 46th National Asparagus Festival. Asparagus is kind of a big deal.
National Asparagus Day timeline
The Greek word ‘asparagos’ first appears in print in English.
Asparagus is brought to North America by European settlers.
Hart, Michigan holds its first annual National Asparagus Day.
Asparagus receives a whole month dedicated to it.
National Asparagus Day FAQs
Fresh or frozen?
Fresh asparagus is great but fresh vegetables can lose nutrients quickly if not used immediately. When frozen, the nutrients are locked in. Either way, asparagus is full of nutrients and is a healthy option.
When did National Asparagus Day begin?
National Asparagus Day is a part of National Asparagus Month, which dates back to 1985.
Can you plant asparagus at home?
Yes, you can. Asparagus should be placed in full sun and lighter soil. Water regularly for the first two years then reduce watering. You can start from one-year-old crowns to get a year’s head start on seeds.
National Asparagus Day Activities
Attend a festival
Share your love for asparagus with like-minded individuals at a festival. You can try Hart, Michigan, or travel to the United Kingdom.
Visit a farm
Get your hands dirty and get some extremely fresh asparagus by visiting a farm. There are U-Pick farms located across the United States.
Try a new recipe
Eating is always a great way to celebrate, so why not try a brand new recipe. You can bake a cheesy sheet pan asparagus or throw it in a frittata; whatever your heart desires.
5 Facts About Asparagus That Will Blow Your Mind
It was used as an offering
The ancient Greeks and Romans used it as an offering to the gods.
It requires patience
It takes three years from seed to sow.
Salt was the original herbicide
Modern farmers often rely on chemical herbicides to manage weed growth, but rock salt was the ancient alternative.
It’s a hangover cure
The minerals and amino acids it contains protect the liver from toxins, and the enzymes help break down the alcohol and alleviate hangovers.
Asparagus has its own museum
You’ll find everything and anything you ever wanted to know about asparagus at the European Asparagus Museum in Bavaria, Germany.
Why We Love National Asparagus Day
Asparagus is versatile
What can you do with spinach? Sauté it? Throw it in a salad? What can you do with asparagus? Air fry it, bake it, grill it, add it to eggs, throw it in a salad, and more. That deserves a celebration.
Asparagus is nutritious
Asparagus not only provides fiber and folate, but it is also rich in saponins, which are a type of phytonutrient credited with reducing cancer risks and assisting in maintaining blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, and controlling blood lipid levels.
Asparagus burns fat
Asparagus contains the chemical asparagine, an alkaloid that has a direct effect on our body’s cells and helps break down fat. Asparagus is also composed of a chemical that assists in removing waste from the body, which reduces fat levels.
National Asparagus Day dates