This is the story of the UK’s crazed year-round love of asparagus, and how it is quickly leading to the destruction of hundreds of miles of Peru’s countryside. This is a story that made some headlines a few years ago, but little (if any) change has happened. The solution (environmentally though maybe not economically) seemed simple, stop importing this stuff, we grow it here after all. But I just read that the production of asparagus in Peru is actually rising (read here) and the only story I have seen recently on this is on the horrifying idea that climate change might stop us getting more of the stuff! (see here). Oh no! When you stop and look at this situation, it all just seems ridiculous.
Oh and apparently asparagus is an aphrodisiac. So in the run up to valentines day the sales
of the vegetable increases significantly (who said romance is dead?). So anyone reading this looking forward to a romantic asparagus-fuelled weekend, at least buy British. Something easier said than done apparently, as companies continue to import from Peru even though we Brits grow the stuff. Even M&S import from Peru! A company I assumed was good on things like this. Though it should be said that all the major supermarkets appear to engage in this trade. A particularly sad story about this is in the Vale of Evesham where the local Tesco sold asparagus imported from Peru despite the local area having grown the stuff for over 200 years! (see more here)
Anyway, the actual problem is this. The industrial production of asparagus in the Ica Valley in Peru (where nearly all of it comes from) is forcing the water table to plummet. After a few years of intensive farming an area will soon become unfarmable. Then the production moves elsewhere and the destruction continues. The whole situation is absurd. The image above a testament to how far we will go for cheap veg and convenience. The Ica Valley is essentially a desert and farming as intensively as this is an amazing undertaking, though one with huge ramifications. We have the World Bank to thank for financing this, a huge investment made all of this possible and now, at the cost of farm land, water, and the natural beauty of huge areas of Peru, asparagus is farmed in a desert around 6000 miles away for our convenience. Amazing.
Ultimately it is the consumer that can change this. We can purchase UK grown asparagus, and it’s hardly a life-changing commitment, we can still eat it. Ultimately we may end up paying a fraction more and be unable to eat it out of season, but after all, its asparagus! It is not worth the destruction of a country. Though it must be said one good thing came from all this. You now have the information to ruin numerous otherwise great dinner parties. Have fun.