Loco For Locavores

Is Martha Stewart to Blame for the Scarcity of Ramps?

This looks like it's more than half a peck.
This looks like it’s more than half a peck. Photo: Courtesy of Amis

The only thing that gets those with locavore leanings frothing at the mouth more than the arrival of ramps each spring is their appearance on restaurants’ menus. But who can we blame for the dwindling populations of the precious and most elusive wild spring onion? Smithsonian is pointing fingers at Martha Stewart. In a piece today about the growing scarcity of ramps, and no signs of their popularity or the practice of foraging them from their native habitats letting up, it says that a recipe that appeared in Martha Stewart Living Magazine back in the nineties is a sort of patient zero for the growing problem.

Prior to that recipe’s publication, foragers, which were believed to be a small niche that would eventually “die out with the old timers,” were allowed to harvest up to a half a peck of ramps in places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Now the National Park Service is saying that foragers’ numbers have swelled, and many are plucking way more than their fair share. When they put the kibosh on foraging on federally protected land, foragers pushed outwards and poaching from private property became more commonplace. So no matter what, it’s always going to be a lose-lose situation. Thanks a bunch, Martha!

Where Are All the Ramps Going? [Smithsonian]

Is Martha Stewart to Blame for the Scarcity of Ramps?