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BETHESDA, Md. -- For the next few weeks, Balducci's based here, is once more offering Mister Spear asparagus from California's San Joaquin County, as it has annually since the mid-1980s, when then-President Ronald Reagan arranged to ship the vegetable to the White House via the grocer.
The specialty asparagus, which the retailer describes as "extra-thick and juicy," is carried exclusively on the East Coast at Balducci's 10 locations. Retailing for $5.99 per pound the stalks are only available while supplies last.
Balducci's spokeswoman Carrie Fox told Progressive Grocer that because of the asparagus' "really short [growing] season," it would be in the grocer's stores for just four to six weeks. "By mid-May it'll be gone," she said.
"The California-grown stalks are picked at just the right moment, and then shipped in special crates that allow them to keep growing and ripening during the four days of transit," Balducci's noted in a statement, adding that although the spears are "tender and sweet enough to be eaten raw," the grocer's culinary team had devised some easy serving suggestions for shoppers.
Balducci's operates 10 stores and four restaurants.