When shopping for vegetables, you will notice that asparagus can be quite expensive.
Asparagus is a healthy food, but there is a complicated growing process which takes place to get asparagus from a farm to your table.
If you have ever wondered why asparagus is expensive, we have some helpful information for you.
Why Is Asparagus so Expensive?
1. Long Growing Time
Asparagus takes a long time to grow.
You cannot simply decide you want to grow asparagus and expect to have some to eat in a few short months.
In fact, it can take years to see your first bit of asparagus starting to grow.
Asparagus is a perennial plant.
This means that the plant is going to return year after year.
The opposite classification of a plant is an annual.
Annuals need to be replaced year in and year out.
Most of the vegetable crops in your garden are very likely annuals.
Once they are cut and harvested, they will need to be replanted to see more crops.
With asparagus, this is not the case.
Once your asparagus has rooted and has had a chance to establish itself, it’s going to stay for a while.
In fact, your asparagus plant can last for dozens of years.
This, of course, is a great thing once you are established, but before that, you will have quite a bit of a waiting period until your plants are ready.
The conditions for the asparagus will need to remain the same, but the plant should continue to thrive year after year.
You can pick asparagus, and it does not kill the plant, as the roots underground will still be well established and allow you to get more and more asparagus each year.
From the time that asparagus is planted to the time you see your first crop, you are going to have to wait about three years.
This is clearly a very long period of time, and for a farmer who is new to the business, it’s going to be quite challenging to survive for three years without any crops or any income.
The two- to three-year wait is certainly a gamble for farmers, and because of that, the pricing is consistently higher for asparagus than other plants.
To get asparagus on your table for your meal, it took about two to three years of waiting at some point.
Clearly, this is quite a bit of time, and it may change your perspective on the costs associated with asparagus.
In the United States, asparagus is a popular vegetable.
Not only do people enjoy the health benefits, but they also like the unique taste and texture of asparagus.
This is a vegetable that is certainly a bit different than many of the other choices on the market.
Since the people in the United States consume so much asparagus, it is very common for a good portion of the product to be imported.
As soon as things start coming in from other countries, the pricing almost immediately goes up.
When food is being imported to America, there are taxes, shipping, and other fees that need to be paid along the way.
These payments are not going to be cheap, and therefore, they get built back into the pricing of the asparagus.
Part of the reason the United States is not capable of growing enough asparagus is that you need a lot of land to grow asparagus.
You will not be able to yield much product from one individual plant.
Therefore, to grow asparagus to sell, you will need hundreds and thousands of acres of the product available.
Because of this, countries with more land tend to be larger suppliers of asparagus.
When asparagus is imported, it has to be packed properly.
The vegetable is a bit fragile, and it does not make sense to ship it and have it all fall apart.
Therefore, there are additional expenses involved in the shipping process, and this just continues to increase the cost of asparagus.
Once you get the asparagus to the store, it will only stay fresh for a few days.
Since the shelf life of asparagus is so short and it takes so long to get it where you need it to go, the pricing continues to go up.
Unless you are located in a hot and humid area, there are only a few weeks out of every year where asparagus can grow.
This is another reason behind the high levels of asparagus being imported.
Overall, if you want to save money on fruits and vegetables, it really can pay to look for things that are harvested locally, and chances are you will save quite a bit of money.
3. Hand Picking
One of the most expensive costs involved in farming is labor.
The more people you need to do the work, the more expensive the entire process is going to be.
After all, these workers are going to need to be able to support their families when they are finished with a day of work.
The asparagus picking process requires quite a bit of labor.
As you may remember, we mentioned that, once an asparagus plant is established, it will grow for years to come.
The stalks on the asparagus plant are the part that we eat.
These are very fast growers, and they will change from day to day.
Workers need to keep a very close eye on the status of the plant and make sure they are picking the asparagus at the perfect time.
If you pick asparagus too soon or too late, it could have an effect on the taste and the ability to sell the product in a store.
Each stalk of asparagus you purchase was hand-picked by someone along the way.
The workers will analyze and inspect the crop day in and day out.
They will only pick the plants that are ready to be picked, and they then have to sort and bundle them as well.
Each individual asparagus plant is going to produce many stalks of asparagus.
There could be stalks on some of the plants that are ready to be picked, and others could still have a few days before they are ready.
Workers are trained as to what to look for from a perfect stalk of asparagus.
This is an important job, and if you have ever purchase asparagus at a grocery store, you can see the work that goes into this.
The stalks are all relatively well-matched as far as size is concerned, and they all have the same general color and thickness as well.
This takes quite a bit of time to put together, and therefore, when you pay more for asparagus, it is partly because the labor costs are quite high.
4. Sensitive Plants
Asparagus farmers will be able to tell you that these plants are quite sensitive.
They need the perfect amount of light and water to continue to grow.
If an asparagus plant is happy, it will grow at very fast rates.
You will potentially see the plants growing several inches in just one day.
Factors like a frost could completely halt the growth of the asparagus and make the season a very difficult one for farmers.
With the length of time it takes to get the asparagus plant to the point of producing, the last thing a farmer wants is to lose the plant somehow.
Farmers must pay close attention to the soil of the plant and the light that it is getting as well.
Asparagus needs soil that is well fertilized and high in nutrients for it to continue to thrive for years to come.
Developing this soil and maintaining it can be really difficult, so farmers have to be very skilled in what they do.
This, of course, will lead to an increase in the cost.
When things get more difficult, they take more time, and therefore, the costs will certainly increase as well.
Not much can be done to avoid these costs as it is just the nature of the plant.
Our last reason as to why asparagus is so expensive is because it is good for you.
When a product is considered to be healthy or beneficial, it is going to cost the consumer more.
This is just an unfortunate thing about the world we live in and the costs of keeping ourselves healthy.
One of the biggest benefits of asparagus is that it is low in calories.
When foods are low in calories, you can consume more of them to feel fuller but gain less weight.
If you are hungry, asparagus can be a great food to stock up on.
Another great thing about asparagus is the number of nutrients you will obtain from eating it.
You will get things like fiber, folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A as well.
The fiber content of asparagus is also relatively high.
If you need a high fiber food to help you lose weight and stay fuller, asparagus is a great choice.
It has been shown that people who eat more fiber tend to have better luck with their digestive system and potentially lower blood pressure.
Asparagus is not a magical superfood, but it is helpful for you to eat.
When you want to broaden your diet and start giving yourself some extra nutrients, asparagus is a great way to do it.
How to Save Money on Asparagus
The best possible way to save money on asparagus is to try and grow it on your own.
As we mentioned, you are going to have to wait a few years to see your first crop.
You will have to prepare and plan for this.
However, once you start seeing those first crops come in, you will have an asparagus producing machine for years to come.
Most average gardeners only need a few asparagus plants to produce more than enough for their family for the season.
Once your plant is established and producing well, you will not have to spend a dime on asparagus again.
If the price of asparagus really bothers you, it may be time to start putting a few plants in the ground, and in a few years, you may be selling asparagus for money!
As you can see, there are quite a few factors that go into the price of asparagus.
When a product is challenging to grow, has to be imported, and is healthy for you, there is going to be an increase in the price.
The good news is that asparagus is very good for you, and that is usually worth paying the few extra dollars.
If you want to establish a long-term stream of fresh asparagus, then planting your own is the best possible choice you could make.