National Spinach Day is observed annually on March 26th. Not only are there so many delicious ways that you can enjoy spinach, but it is also incredibly good for you!
An annual plant, spinach is native to central and southwestern Asia. Thought to have originated in ancient Persia, Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then it was introduced into ancient China where it was known as “Persian vegetable The earliest available record of the spinach plant was found in Chinese, saying that the spinach plant was introduced into China via Nepal.
During her reign as queen of France, Catherine de Medici was well known to have enjoyed spinach so much that it was served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” reflecting Catherine’s birth in Florence.
- Following China, the United States is the world’s second-largest producer of spinach.
- California, Arizona and New Jersey are the top spinach producing states in the United States.
- In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption – a welcome boost to an industry during the depression era.
- Popeye’s instant transformation was based on a research mistake about the amount of iron in spinach (3.5 milligrams, not 35). This mistake (and unintended marketing bonanza for canned spinach) reportedly increased American consumption of spinach by 30 percent in the first half of the 20th century.
- The spinach growing town of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of Popeye in 1937.
- ‘Birds Eye’ was the first company to advertise frozen spinach. It did so in “Life” magazine in 1949.
- California is today the US’s #1 grower/supplier of spinach, accounting for almost three quarters (3/4) of national production. Other spinach-growing states include Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and Arkansas.
- Alma, Arkansas (population approx. 4,700), holds an annual spinach festival each April, organized by the Alma Chamber of Commerce. Alma proclaims itself to be the “spinach capital of the world”, a title also claimed by Crystal City, Texas. Alma is the home of “Allen Canning Company” which cans and ships spinach.
- The U.S. is only the world’s second largest producer of spinach, producing a mere 3% of global production. China is the world’s largest spinach producer with 85% of global production.
- Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.