Twitter user Layla Dhere (@dhere) expressed confusion in a recent tweet featuring the above image of a row of bottles of what is labeled "Asparagus Water" on a shelf. The bottles appear to be filled with water and three stalks of raw asparagus. They are priced at $5.99 each. Dhere is right to be perplexed.
"The nutrients from the asparagus do transfer into the water."
The labels say "Whole Foods," and the date on the bottles is current. A call to the supermarket (these particular bottles are from the Whole Foods in Brentwood, Calif. though in the New York City area grocery delivery service Instacart, which is a partner of Whole Foods, lists "Asparagus Water") at first produced some bewilderment. The operator denied the product existed. Eventually she transferred the call to a gentleman in the produce department who did not want to give his name. He explained that the product was new, "We've had them on the shelf for the last few days." When asked how the item is made, he said, "It's water, and we sort of cut asparagus stalks down so they're shorter, and put them into the container." When Eater asked what it was for, there was a long pause before he said, "Well, it's... to drink." He elaborated, "The nutrients from the asparagus do transfer into the water."
As a point of comparison, Whole Foods has whole bundles of asparagus on sale for about $5.
A search for "Asparagus Water" doesn't turn up any recipes or news articles; it's seemingly not a common item. And the Whole Foods employees Eater spoke with said it was not a product that had been requested by customers. Eater has reached out to Whole Foods' corporate office for comment. Perhaps Whole Foods' Asparagus Water will be sold for $3.99 at its new lower-priced 365 markets.
Update 8/3/15; 6:20 p.m. EST: Whole Foods' Senior Media Relations Specialist Liz Burkhart responded to Eater's request for comment by explaining that it was all a big misunderstanding:
"We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. We looked into this right away and found that this item was being carried in just one of our stores in California. It was meant to be water with the essence of vegetables and/or mushrooms to be used as broth (similar to a bone broth), which are typically made over a long period of time soaking in water. The product was made incorrectly and has since been removed from the one store where it was carried. We read your story, and would love your help clarifying that this product isn't and never has been available for online ordering on Instacart and was only ever offered in one store."
Eater Video: A great way to incorporate vegetables into your dishes