Local asparagus provides the first fresh taste of spring

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Food and Recipes

After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to spring with anticipation – including that first taste of fresh, local fruits and veggies. Typically, asparagus is the first to appear in Ontario grocery stores, markets and restaurants every year, in season from mid-May to early July.

That first taste is not only a sign of spring and summer to come, it also helps support sustainable food production. Most Ontario growers harvest their fields every day to ensure maximum freshness – and, of course, a shorter distance from field to fork lowers greenhouse gas emissions and reduces asparagus’ carbon footprint.

There are other ways growers ensure your local asparagus is sustainable:

  1. Cover crops – plants that grow in between the asparagus rows – keep weeds under control, prevent topsoil from blowing away and make it easier for the soil to absorb moisture. This reduces the need for irrigation.
  2. Growers are also taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of harvesting, such as transitioning to electric versions of the specialized carts workers sit in as they harvest asparagus by hand.
  3. Once harvested, asparagus is quickly cooled to keep its fresh taste and give it a longer shelf life, which reduces food waste.

Tips to keep your asparagus fresh and delicious:

  • Although best eaten fresh, asparagus can be refrigerated for five to seven days to maintain freshness.
  • To store, wrap stem ends in damp cloth, then cover the entire bunch with plastic wrap. You can also place spears in water like cut flowers and top with a plastic bag. Store in the fridge.

Find more information about sustainable food production at ofvga.org

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