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Unique vegetable thrives along California coast

John Giusti says he's proud to maintain his family's heritage of growing artichokes.



John Giusti said he's proud to maintain his family's heritage of growing artichokes. The third-generation farmer raises this California specialty in Half Moon Bay, San Mateo County, and has found plenty of takers in his own backyard.

Just down the road, Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero serves up artichokes in a variety of succulent ways, including cream of artichoke soup, which has made it internationally famous.

"Well, they hear about it, and they're intrigued by it, and they just come from all over really--all over the United States, all over the world for the most part," said Tim Duarte, tavern vice president. "They'll make the trek all the way to Pescadero for our artichoke soup."

Duarte's also serves up an omelet made from artichoke hearts, artichoke ravioli and an artichoke-heart appetizer.

This strong relationship between Giusti and Duarte's helps the longtime family farm stay in business in an ultra-competitive market. It also provides something extra for John - satisfaction in a job well done.

"When I go into the local restaurants, I do feel a sense of pride about it. It shows the work we're doing in the fields and growing them all year long," Giusti said.

California grows virtually all of the artichokes in America, and this vegetable, which is actually a thistle, is jam packed with nutrition: They have 16 essential nutrients and just 25 calories each.

For more information, visit www.duartestavern.com.


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