At JoyFoodly, we think that understanding where your food comes from is an important part of making eating decisions! We sometimes feature California farms and pass on farmer tips about the food you eat, and even some culinary advice from the people who grow your food. Read part 2 of the tour here.
This past weekend, I got to visit two popular California farms on a farm tour run by CUESA, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. I learned all about asparagus and eggs, which seemed appropriate with Easter right around the corner. Here are some tidbits I picked up along the way that might help you the next time you’re in the grocery store or at a farmer’s market.
Farmer Roscoe Zuckerman
We first stopped by to see Roscoe Zuckerman at Zuckerman’s Farm, where Roscoe’s family has been farming asparagus for three generations. I was immediately struck by how bare the land looks, but upon closer inspection we saw small, green shoots poking out of the ground. Asparagus!
Roscoe really knows his asparagus. Did you know that asparagus can grow many inches in one day, even up to 10 inches if the temperature is hot enough and the soil is just right? And even more amazing is the fact that asparagus can continue to grow after you cut it, so packing it in a box can require a little extra wiggle room.
Many chefs in San Francisco have been buying thin asparagus from the farm, but Roscoe is on a mission to spread the virtues of his jumbo asparagus. He told us that the jumbo is much less fibrous than thin asparagus, and he likes the taste. To prove his point, he started cutting asparagus straight from the fields and offering it to us to munch on. Raw asparagus is surprisingly sweet (make sure you try the shaved asparagus salad we posted last week!).
Roscoe cuts his asparagus when it gets to about 9 inches of green, although he has found 15 inch asparagus before! All asparagus is hand cut, since there’s no machine that can properly cut the stem. Roscoe also grows purple and white asparagus, but in smaller quantities than the green.