Green asparagus: Erosion control and sorce of employment in rural areas

Originating in the Mediterranean, there is evidence of consumption of asparagus as early as 3,000 BC, paintings of them tied in bundles have been found in monuments of ancient Egypt.

On the other hand, there are theories that say that it was the Arabs who introduced the asparagus in Spain in S.XIII, existing different books on Andalusian cuisine spoken of as asparagus delicacy in different meals.

There are 240 species of asparagus, Asparagus officinalis L. being cultivated as the only edible variety. Agronomically belonged to the family of Liliaceae, but according to the new structure of botanical families, belongs to the family of Asparagaceae.

There are two types of asparagus on the market, white and green. Both are the same plant, although the difference between the two arises from the way it has grown bud. Asparagus maintain its white color until they rise to the surface, so if they are collected before leaving the earth are called white asparagus. Green asparagus resulting from the emergence of the asparagus to the surface, where they are loaded with chlorophyll and take on green colour.

In Spain, Andalucia is the largest producer of asparagus followed by Extremadura, Navarra and Castilla-La Mancha. According to the latest data from Certification Service CAAE, the organic asparagus surface grown in the province of Sevilla is remarkable, beating territories traditionally dedicated to this crop such as Granada and Malaga.

Following the line of horticultural products in general, the majority of organic asparagus produced in Spain are exported to other European countries, namely Italy, Switzerland and England.

Therapeutic properties
The therapeutic properties of asparagus add to its flavour. It is a food rich in fiber while low in calories and carbohydrates, so it is considered essential for a healthy diet. It is diuretic, as it stimulates urine production in the kidney. Therefore, its use should be controlled if any problems kidney disorders.

It contains minerals such as potassium, which helps to eliminate fluids; iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and zinc. The latter, together with the high content of folic acid you have, give it to the stud rejuvenating properties. Also, folic acid together with iron contribute to the formation of red blood cells.

As for vitamins, is rich in A, B, C and E. Also, another great nutritional value of asparagus is the glutathione, an excellent antioxidant that prevents cancer.

Other uses od asparagus: erosion control
Spain is the country with higher risk of erosion in Europe due to its climate and topography features that characterize it. Asparagus has been used as a pioneer in the rehabilitation of sandy soils and moors subject at winds and slope erosion problems in median slope. Thus, its use as a control of erosion also provides the following advantages:

- Better use of soil nutrients due to their deep roots.
- Added value to dryland. Promoting quality of asparagus cultivation in drylands.
- Organic farming asparagus also provides other value added because it can add to the functional and healthy food.

The importance of asparagus growing in rural areas
The cultivation of asparagus has great social importance in the rural areas due to the employment generated. Its needed between 120-125 wages/ha per year for farming activities, harvesting, and grading and packing at the warehouse, which economically represents the 88.6% of the total workforce in organic farming.

It is a crop that support the settlement of rural population, although management is done mostly by the family land owner by itself. In larger farms can be hired one or two people per hectare, in addition to the staff who are later responsible for warehouse work.

Also, in recent years are seeing the trend of people, usually couples, who lease plots one or two hectares of land to plant asparagus, profitability indicator and source of employment in rural areas.

Ultimately this crop, with the added value of production under organic farming standards, besides being one of our culinary gems, has great health benefits and is a source of rural employment, complementing the period between the harvest of olive and the harvest of summer crops.

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