For me, the greatest harbinger of spring is the humble asparagus – and this week we’ve finally got some! Unlike many of the vegetables we enjoy today – tomatoes, capsicum, potatoes, corn – asparagus is actually native to greater Eurasia and traveled to the new world; the United States is now the biggest importer of asparagus in the world, and after China the two biggest asparagus producing nations are both in the Americas: Peru and Mexico. Asparagus plants completely die back in late autumn, only to send out new shoots from the crown when the temperature is right – in fact the name asparagus comes from the Persian word asparag, which literally means “shoot”. The “leaves” on an asparagus stem are actually branches, which if left unharvested will grow into a fern like leaf-structure, collecting energy from the sun to store in the root system so it can asparag again after a long winter hibernation! In addition to being delicious, and having a wide range of customary culinary applications due to its wide geographical spread and long history of cultivation – asparagus actually features in a 5000 year-old ancient Egyptian frieze and is also present in the oldest surviving cookbook – it also is both low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. We’re only able to source a relatively small quantity for the moment from Newry Farm, but in a couple of weeks when Premium Fresh’s crop comes online we’ll all be feasting on this ancient and venerable shoot!
In other news, Richmond farm have supplied us with a bumper harvest of delicious celery, and after a state-wide shortage of mushrooms last week, we’ve been able to get enough this week to include a heap in the $40 and $25 boxes. Premium Fresh have sent down the last of their Brussels sprout crop for the season, which if you ask me will go perfectly with some fatty bacon and the lovely fresh sage from Hill’s Hydroponics – yum! Organic and standard boxes all receive Dutch Creams this week – apparently Tasmania’s favourite potato – and budget boxes have Moonlight potatoes from MG Farm Produce, which are a great all-purpose potato. We also welcome back Longley Organic Farm, who have supplied us with some lovely – and mostly plastic free! – fresh greens for this week’s organic boxes.