Hello friends & food enthusiasts!
Spring is finally here! We have seen a lot of rain, but the days in between have been absolutely beautiful. I'm excited to announce that a few of our farmers have called us with news of some of my most favorite crops sprouting up: fresh asparagus & ripe strawberries! It's funny how when you become involved with local foods your months are defined by the produce it produces. Spring officially starts for me when these local beauties first arrive for us to enjoy- & they are finally here!! Phew, I can completely shake off winter, at last.
If you aren't quite as excited about asparagus & strawberries as I am, here are a few fun facts about each that might inspire you to add them to plate this month:
◦ Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
◦ A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
◦ The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
◦ 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.
◦ There is a recipe for asparagus in the oldest surviving cookbooks that dates back to the third century AD.
◦ White asparagus has been called "white gold", "edible ivory" and "the royal vegetable"
◦ Asparagus is best planted near tomatoes as each plant repels bugs that bother the other
◦ Strawberries are the only fruit that have their seeds on the outside. Those tiny little flecks are future strawberries, provided you don't chomp them down first. And if you're looking to start your own garden, you only really need one piece of fruit to get going. The average strawberry has a whopping 200 seeds!
◦ The ancient Romans believed that strawberries helped alleviate symptoms of melancholy, inflammation, fainting, fevers, blood disease, and pretty much any other ailment you could think of. Medieval stone masons used to carve strawberry designs on their altars and all around the tops of cathedrals and churches, as a symbol of perfection and righteousness.
◦ Are strawberries really a berry? Actually, strawberries are a member of the rose family, and are really high in Vitamin C, (which most people don't give strawberries credit for). In fact, just 8 strawberries have more Vitamin C content than a medium-sized orange!
◦ In France, strawberries are considered an aphrodisiac, and in mythology the strawberry is the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love. In the folklore of several cultures it is believed that if two people split and share a double strawberry they will fall in love.
◦ Strawberries are eaten by 94 percent of Americans! The average U.S. resident eats about 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries a year, and an additional 1.8 pounds of the frozen stuff. More than half of kids between ages seven and nine listed strawberries as their favorite fruit, so give them a shot if you've got a picky eater at home.
You will begin to see (if you haven't already) asparagus & strawberries on sale at your grocery store but I highly recommend purchasing them from a local farmer to get the freshest, most flavorful selection. You will also see them featured this month at Thyme Square in our daily menu & for special events. Hooray for Spring!