This vegetable is high in nutrients and antioxidants. It helps with digestive and kidney health and supports a healthy pregnancy. It can be eaten in a variety of ways, but cultivating it takes patience. Today’s blog post is about asparagus.
It used to be a member of the lily family.
Only very recently was asparagus separated into its own family, called Asparagaceae, thanks to a more complete genetic workup. It has been discovered that asparagus is related to beargrass and agave, as well as some lily-like flowers. You can see asparagus’s relationship to agave when you see the asparagus-like stalks of some desert sprouts.
It makes your pee smell weird.
Asparagus produces a substance known as asparagusic acid, which produces several sulfurous biproducts. Its these biproducts that cause both the distinctive odor and the bright yellow color of the affected urine. Interestingly enough, not everyone produces this odor and many people can’t smell it, either. It’s all based on genetics, with certain types of genes allowing you to smell certain odors. If you lack these genes, you will not catch the scent.
The white variety is often artificially produced.
Asparagus spears turn green when they are exposed to sunlight, thanks to the process of photosynthesis. To create white asparagus, growers leave the spears covered in dirt and plastic to prevent them from being exposed to the sun. In this way they ripen underground and are eventually harvested in a pure white color instead of the usual green. There are other color varieties of asparagus, but we will discuss those a little later in this article.
It is sometimes known as sparrow grass.
My father used to jokingly call asparagus “spare grass.” He had no idea how close he was to the truth. The vegetable was originally called asparagus, which is a Latin word. It was shortened to sparage in the Late Old English era. Middle English again changed the name, this time to asperages. Eventually this word evolved into sparrow grass, which is still sometimes used today.
It’s difficult to cultivate.
You really have to know what you’re doing to grow asparagus. It requires a lot of care and patience to cultivate. First of all, it takes three years to grow from seed to a viable harvest. Not only this, but you must know when and how to harvest asparagus to get its most prolific crop. In other words, it can be a real pain in the butt!
It grows wild in the United States.
Asparagus originally came from Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia, where it grows wild on seashores and riverbanks. The ancient Romans and Greeks domesticated this wild grass and it became more widespread than ever. In the 1600s it was imported to North America from France, where it quickly established itself. It was seen growing wild as early as the 1800s and is considered an invasive species in some areas.
It can be eaten raw.
It is a myth that asparagus is poisonous when raw. I’m not sure where this myth started as I have not been able to find much information on it, but it can, indeed, be eaten raw. Most people prefer to cook their asparagus, however, because of its thick, woody texture. If you wish to try asparagus raw, it is best eaten sliced or marinated.
It helps your kidneys.
Asparagus has many health benefits, some of which were discussed in the introduction. Among its most interesting benefits, however, are what it does for the kidneys. As a natural diuretic, it removes salts and excess fluids. It also helps the kidneys flush toxins out of the body and substances contained in the vegetable can prevent certain kinds of kidney stones.
It is traditionally used for medicine.
This is how the ancient Greeks and Romans used it, and they treated all sorts of different ailments with it. Many people consider asparagus an aphrodisiac, and it is often seen as a phallic symbol. In fact, modern witches use it for male lust and fertility spells.
It comes in a purple variety.
That’s right, asparagus is not just green. Though the purple varieties are said to have a similar flavor to the green and white varieties, the purple taste is said to be sweeter, while spears are more tender and less woody. Interestingly enough, the purple is only skin deep. Underneath this violet hue, the shoots are actually green.
I remember my first experience with asparagus many years ago. I was very young and went to the bathroom with my mother, where I was suddenly blasted by the pungent odor of my own pee. Mom explained that this was the asparagus I’d just eaten. For some reason as a little kid I thought this was neat. As an adult, I just think it stinks. This doesn’t stop me from eating and enjoying asparagus. My favorite cooking method is steaming with a little hollandaise sauce on top. Not exactly healthy, but it’s good.
Wildflowers and Weeds- www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com
NBC News- www.nbcnews.com
Taste of Home- www.tasteofhome.com
British Food History- www.britishfoodhistory.com
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center- www.si.edu
Live Science- www.livescience.com
The Witchipedia- www.witchipedia.com
Specialty Produce- www.specialtyproduce.com