- In the fields: It’s National Farmworker Awareness Week. Do you know where your food comes from? Read more here.
- Lost at sea: How the AP busted an international seafood slavery racket. Read more here.
- Mama’s recipe: The N&O explores how sugar in cornbread sheds light on racial divisions in the South. Read more here.
- Whose food? Civil Eats searches for solutions to food appropriation. Read more here.
- At the market: Spring means fresh vegetables, but some are more sustainable than others. Read more here.
Food of the week: ramps
April is the height of ramp season, a time when the wild leek is celebrated at festivals throughout Appalachia, and folks flock to farmers markets in search of the garlicky bulb.
A ramp has pretty, lily-of-the-valley–like leaves and a tapering, reddish-purple stem that ends in a pearly white bulb. When buying ramps at a farmers market, look for plants with wide leaves and plump, mature bulbs. Avoid those with a few small leaves and straight, slender bulbs; they’ve been harvested too young.
This issue of harvesting is one of crucial importance to the future of the beloved ramp. It’s not commonly cultivated, so most available for purchase have been plucked from the wild. Food writer Jane Lear notes the growing popularity of the ramp has led to serious questions about sustainability.
I don’t really want to see them on my plate in California, say, or Arizona. That sort of profligacy has led to fast and furious ramp wrangling and habitat destruction, and thus sustainability issues: The slow-growing perennial -native to the woodlands of the South, the Midwest, the Northeast, and Canada- has become overharvested in some areas, including Québec, where foraging for commercial purposes was banned in 1995, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee, where it was banned in 2004.
If you have a cool, damp, shady spot, you can plant your own patch, using seeds or bulbs from Glen and Norene Facemire of Richwood, West Virginia, who run what they say is the only ramp farm in the world.
Read more here.