Zuckerman's Asparagus: The Way of the Dinosaur?
While pondering what to blog about today, I looked out at the pale wash of clouds over the day's blue sky and while there might be some pressing chef gossip, what's on my mind right now is spring: the apricot jam I'm going to make, the sour cherry pie I'm going to perfect, the green garlic, the peas, the morels, the asparagus!
So, what do writers do when they don't know what to write about? They google. And I googled asparagus and up popped an article, "Hard Times for California Asparagus" that I'd missed in last week's LA Times from produce savant and writer David Karp.
According to Karp, Mexican and Peruvian-grown asparagus has taken over because of access to cheap labor (which translates to cheap prices)—but to such an extent that one of our favorite San Joaquin Delta growers here, Zuckerman's Farm, is on their "last stand":
"Farmers often cry that the sky is falling when they are really just experiencing a cyclical downturn in markets, but hard facts back up Zuckerman's concern. California still grows about 11,500 acres of asparagus, estimates Cherie Watte Angulo, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission. But this is down from 20,200 in 2007 and 40,900 is 2000. Twenty years ago, California produced 62% of the asparagus consumed in the United States; so its share is close to 10%, Angulo says."
Read the rest of the article and then go out and buy some fat local asparagus and cook it up for dinner tonight. Zuckerman's is available at both the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and the Alemany Farmers Market. It's a worthy cause and a good way to celebrate the (almost) beginning of spring. We've got four days before the official kickoff.
I always like asparagus topped with a soft-cooked egg but this is one of my oldie but goodie ode-to-spring recipes.