The season usually starts on May 1 and runs to the end of June, but the English crop has been harvested since mid-April this year (2007).
Domestic production and imports Edit
During 2005, the latest year for which Defra has published figures on its website, 2,300 tonnes of UK asparagus were harvested but 8,000 tonnes were imported from overseas. Domestic production, imports and overall consumption of asparagus are all believed to have grown since then. Almost all of the UK asparagus is sold during the few weeks of the season, some of it locally and much of it through major retailers such as supermarkets.
CPRE spot check Edit
CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has carried a spot check (spring 2007) on asparagus sales along a nine mile transect from Bromley in South East London to near Tate Modern in Southwark, visiting nine outlets which ranged from major superstores to greengrocer stalls. They found English asparagus on sale in all the supermarkets visited apart from Aldi, which sadly wasn’t selling any at all (and in which every kind of vegetable on sale was plastic wrapped). In Asda and Sainsbury’s, Thai and Peruvian asparagus was also being sold alongside English sourced asparagus - and the only organic asparagus on sale came from the tropics. At stalls at Bromley South railway station and the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge only Peruvian or Spanish asparagus was on sale. And even in the Borough Market, London’s temple of food, two greengrocer stalls were marketing crate loads of Spanish asparagus alongside English.
Imports, food miles and carbon footprint Edit
|Government, agribusinesses and retailers failing to curb unsustainable water use in Peru, 15 September  Production standards imposed by UK retailers importing asparagus from Ica do not adequately consider or address the impacts and future viability of water resource use in Peru. A lack of coordinated planning and scant consideration of the long-term sustainability of water resources is threatening the water supply of a third of a million people – and may leave some of the region’s inhabitants without water in as little as 25 years.|
- "British asparagus growers are currently supplying all major retailers with British crop and there should be ample supply. We estimate that we'll be harvesting 20% more asparagus this year due to increased planting to keep up with demand for British product. We can not comment on individual retailers' or wholesalers' decisions to also offer imported product during the British season." British Asparagus Growers Association, (spring 2007)
- "The whole idea of the season is to enjoy home grown British asparagus during the few weeks when it is harvested. To us it seems a shame to eat imported asparagus all year round, not least because it has such a big carbon footprint. But it seems downright cynical for wholesalers and retailers to exploit the very idea of the season by piling up imported asparagus and flogging it hard during these few Spring weeks. We urge all shoppers to check where their asparagus is coming from and make a point of buying British - even if it does cost a little more. You’ll be supporting UK horticulture and helping to cut down on global warming emissions.’ CPRE local foods campaigner Graeme Willis.