Califonia Bountiful

California Artichokes

Learn about California Artichokes

In the small Central Coast town of Castroville, they are doing big things for one vegetable. Castroville is known as the artichoke capital of the world, and for good reason: Farmers there produce about 95% of the nation's supply. And the gold standard when it comes to artichokes is Ocean Mist Farms. The folks there have been devoted to growing the thorny thistle for nearly a century and today they are the largest artichoke grower in North America.

Ocean Mist Farms is all about keeping things fresh with artichokes and one way they're doing that is by re-imagining its color. The company has developed a proprietary, seasonal purple artichoke. They are available for a limited time, once a year and the taste is similar to the familiar green artichoke.

No matter what their color, it takes patience to grow artichokes—up to eight to 10 months. It takes skill to harvest them, too. Because the artichoke is the immature flower bud of a thistle, they don't all ripen at the same time. The harvest crew must come through the fields up to a dozen times to get all the mature artichokes harvested. The highly skilled employees here walk up to 6 miles a day and can harvest thousands of cases of artichokes a week during their peak harvest season. That's out-of-this-world productivity, but then again there's no other vegetable on earth quite like the artichoke.

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