8 Little Known Facts About the Artichoke
February 28, 2018 by Diana McClean
Every season is artichoke season at Ocean Mist Farms! However, our Artichoke Club members know that traditional artichoke season is spring time during March, April and May. This is when you can find your favorite vegetable delicacy in stores for spring holiday celebrations such as Mother’s Day and Easter. With THE season almost upon us, we thought it is a perfect time to share a few unique artichoke facts to impress around the table or in line at the grocery store!
- The artichoke is an unbloomed flower, part of the sunflower family, from the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.
- Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to humans.
- According to Greek mythology, the artichoke became known through the Greek God Zeus. As the story goes, Zeus spotted a beautiful girl named Cynara, while visiting his brother Poseidon. He instantly fell in love, made her a goddess and took her back to Mount Olympus with him. However, Cynara became lonesome and took secret trips to visit her family. As soon as Zeus discovered these trips, he was angered, kicked Cynara off Mount Olympus and turned her into an artichoke. The scientific name for artichoke—Cynara cardunculus—derives from this this myth. There’s even an office building in Castroville called Cynara, go figure!
- Ciro Terranova “Whitey” (1889-1938), aka the “Artichoke King”, was a member of the mafia. What? He purchased all the artichokes shipped to New York from California, created a produce company and resold the artichokes at a 30%-40% profit. Eventually, the mayor of New York declared a ban on everything artichokes! One week later, the mayor admitted to loving the vegetable too much, and lifted the ban. I can’t say that I blame him.
- One artichoke plant can produce up to 20 artichokes per year! Thank goodness, right?
- Artichokes are ranked number one over all other vegetables when it comes to antioxidant levels, including anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
- Freezing weather yields Frost Kissed® artichokes. This is a real seasonal treat, as temperatures dropping below 32 degrees in Castroville, California are never a certain thing. Learn more about these limited-edition ‘chokes here.
- The Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival is an annual event, attracting artichoke lovers everywhere! In fact, Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen in 1949. This year we are celebrating the 59th Festival. If you want to come, purchase tickets here!
Interested in how we harvest these unique veggies? Watch our harvest video!
Leave us a comment
Growing up on California's central coast, I enjoyed delicious artichokes around the family dinner table and always on Christmas Eve! It is beyond perfection that I now market artichokes for a living and get to share the Ocean Mist Farms story and my love of all things fresh.