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Who will be the 2015 Asparagus Queen?

We are less than two weeks away from the National Asparagus Festival, held on June 12-14th in Oceana County. But before that, we must name a queen!

Saturday, June 6th, will mark the fate of one lucky girl, as she is crowned the 2015 Asparagus Queen. Candidates, Konnie Vandervelde and Courtney Kokx, are vying for the 2015 crown. Both are no strangers to asparagus royalty.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Danielle Kokx, the 2014 Asparagus Queen (and candidate Courtney Kokx's sister), and Gina Ferweda (left), a resort owner and food blogger, on Fox 17 Morning Mix.

Vandevelde's great-aunt, Lorena, was the 1993 Asparagus Queen and Kokx's sister, Danielle, was reining queen in 2014, making it a close race with royal bloodlines throughout! 

Candidates,  Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde , compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

Candidates, Courtney Kokx and Konnie Vandervelde, compete for the 2015 Asparagus Queen crown. 

The pageant crowned its first queen in 1975 and has made dreams come true for asparagus-loving ladies ever since. Each year, the National Asparagus Festival (NAF) hosts a pageant and formal dinner where the Asparagus Queen of the country is crowned. 

Once named, the newly appointed asparagus queen will travel the state of Michigan promoting the asparagus industry in Oceana County and encouraging Michiganders to support our local agriculture industry.

"All of the exposure and support goes straight back to the farmers that produce this wonderful vegetable that we're known for," says the NAF.

The National Asparagus Festival's Banquet and Pageant is held this Saturday, June 6, at 6 p.m. at Shelby High School. Tickets are $12 and sold online or at the door.

The formal event will include dinner (with plenty of options for non-asparagus lovers), music, and entertainment. 



5 Tips for Picking the Best Asparagus

1.     Firmness.

Asparagus stalks should be firm. If you were to bend it, it should feel like it’s going to snap in half.

2.     Compact Tips.

Look for tips that are closed tightly together.

3.     Stalks.

Bright green, smooth, straight stalks with dark green or purple tips. Along with tight closed tips, the best pick should have a shade of dark green or purple.

4.     Similar Diameter.

This is more for convenience, rather than an indicator of flavor. Thicker stalks simply mean they’re more mature. No matter small or large, a consistent diameter will help the asparagus cook evenly.

5.     It should squeak.

When you squeeze the bunch together, it should squeak. This indicates the firmness and freshness of the bunch.



The "Clean 15"

Have you ever heard of “Clean 15” foods?

A friend of mine has two young children and worries a lot about the food she’s preparing for her kids.

Is it safe?
Is it nutritious?
Is it made well and does it taste good?

This friend of mine recently introduced me to “Clean 15” foods.

Guess what? Asparagus is one of them!

Michigan Asparagus is a “Clean 15” vegetable because it has a low pesticide load and is one of the safest conventionally grown crops to consume. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, it is a food that does not need to be purchased organic.

Many of us try to buy organic, but when you aren’t able to find it? Or you can’t afford it? Michigan Asparagus! Because it is grown so early in the season, Michigan Asparagus does not require as many pesticides as other fruits and vegetables.

What non-organic foods should you avoid?

The “Dirty Dozen.”

These foods contain the highest amount of pesticides according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce.

Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items.

But remember: don’t let this news deter you from buying fruits and vegetables regularly, whether they’re organic or not. The EWG says, “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.”

What can we learn from all of this?

Buy organic when possible.

Eat fruits and vegetables always.

Get Michigan Asparagus while it lasts!