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Apr 20, 2011 05:17 AM

Easy on the Ramps! -[ Moved from General Chowhounding board]

Rising demand for "foraged" (i.e., "stolen") ramps is thinning remaining supplies, both here and in the U.S.:

Casual and commercial foraging is taking a toll. Ironically, it's theft by and for people who should know better.

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    1. Looks like NY is interested in ramps.

      Born and bred in WV

      1. Interesting article, although I disagree wholeheartedly with the comments about not farming or cultivating them.

        If ramps are delicious (which I assume they are, I've never had them, but would happily try them if I ever luck across them on a menu) then why not farm them? Vague sympathies about farmed ramps not being as tasty as foraged because of the lack of effort ring a bit hollow to me. After all, we're talking about a plant here, and if there is a market for them, which there appears to be, why not farm them like we do any other produce to support that market.

        11 Replies
        1. re: TuteTibiImperes

          ramps are a wildfood so they tend to naturalize fairly readily without any need for real cultivation, like several varieties of wild mushrooms. a good thing to do if you buy some ramps at the farmer's market: you can use them in recipes, saving the root tips (like green onions), and just kind of chuck them in your own garden, or in woody areas around you, or bury them in the mulch of a parking lot divider, or whatever. next year you don't need to buy ramps, just go back where you chucked 'em in early spring for a ramp bonanza. don't dig them all, leave some of them to continue to propagate-- i think that's where the problems come with unscrupulous foragers just raping whole woodland habitats of *all* the wild leeks so that none are left for the next season's harvest. it's tough to get people to respect something like a morel or ramp patch and not harvest it to death, when the things sell for top dollar and have such a short season.

          1. re: soupkitten

            It's become a serious problem in southern Ontario, where ramp foragers(thieves)try to clean out patches wherever they're found, usually on private land. That's where the fun starts. Friends who own woodland property managed to get the provincial police to lay trespass charges against foragers last year and plan to do the same this season. The ramps show up at Toronto markets where they sell quickly. Never seem to be any questions about where or how they got there.Lots of hypocrisy and self-justification among the foragers who just don't get it. As usual, the "environment" is a distant abstract, not the local woodlands they merrily screw-up for a fast buck.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              Take it easy on the criticism of responsible foragers, please. Are you talking from personal experience or from what you've read in the New York Times?

              While wild ramps may be overharvested in southern Ontario, they grow profusely in many areas in the Eastern US where they are in no danger of being wiped out. The majority of professional foragers DO harvest responsibly.

              Bottom line, know who you're buying from and don't patronize dirtbags who are only in it for the money. But please don't characterize every forager and seller of ramps as pillaging thieves.

              1. re: DiverDave

                Remarkably, most "foragers" are thieves, whether on private or public land. They can't read signs, trample woodland plants, run ATVs into delicate forest areas, and can't resist an easy buck. They're in it for the money across southern Ontario. So-called "pros" are the worst of the lot. Not buying any apologia for theft.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  We own our own 50 acre forest from which I forage ramps, morels, chanterelles, boletes, blueberries and hunt deer. I've not yet had any problems w/ trespassers, except for one young man that built a deer stand on our property thinking it was our neighbor's (his grand father) land. I said we can share it.
                  Carpe chow

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    You're lucky! It's really become an issue here. Ironically, friends whose land has been hit hardest are into sustainable ag and livestock. The "foragers" they had charged were pros according to the provincial police report.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          Not all foragers are criminals, some are, but not all. I've been the recipient of both ethically and unethically foraged ramps. The most unethical ones happen to be from a hot shot TO chef who took a shovel out with him and just dug holes. The ethical ones make agreements with land owners and only take 30% of what is out there. Please don't lump all foragers in with the idiots your friends encountered. Many are earth loving hippies who respect the planet and understand the delicate balance that is sustainability.

                          1. re: phisherking

                            Funny but every busted "forager"(sic)is an ethical "earth loving hippie" in my experience. Less funny is how they seem to revert to utter rapacity when they think no one's around. Their "ethics" are purely situational. So long as there's a market, these clowns will hoover up every ramp they can find. Sorry, not buying your argument.

          2. I never heard of ramps until about a month ago and now it's ramps ramps ramps everywhere you go.

            1 Reply
            1. re: redfish62

              It's the season of ramps. Usually you will hear it this time every year.


              Helvetia is a special place for ramps

              a tidbit of trivia
              . Jim and Bronson Comstock founded The West Virginia Hillbilly, a weekly humor and heritage newspaper, in 1957, and ramps were a frequent topic. For one legendary issue, Jim Comstock introduced ramp juice into the printer's ink, invoking the ire of the U.S. Postmaster General.[3]