Monday, September 1, 2008

Forbes Spotlights the Nickajack

I never expected that my old mentor, the Bard of Cullasaja - Silas McDowell – would make it into Forbes magazine. But this week, it happened. Well, it almost happened. While Silas McDowell wasn’t mentioned by name, his Nickajack apple was. As reported here last month, McDowell discovered the apple on a tributary of the Cullasaja River just across the mountain, and it gained much acclaim during the nineteenth century.

This week, America’s Most Endangered Foods, a story by Allison Van Dusen, appeared on the Forbes website. It began:

Walk the aisles of any grocery store in America and it may seem like the average shopper has access to a wide range of foods. Spend a minute talking to someone knowledgeable about endangered foods, however, and you realize you're only seeing a glimpse of what was once an extremely diverse bounty.

The article reviews Renewing America's Food Traditions, a book edited by Gary Paul Nabhan, that lists “some of the more than 1,000 food species and varieties once savored by Americans, but are now on the verge of disappearing from the landscape altogether.”

The article continued:

The effort was founded by seven organizations, including Slow Food USA, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Chefs Collaborative, which came together in 2004 to help conserve, restore and celebrate North America's unique food traditions. Nabhan compiled his list by working with collaborative members and talking to farmers, fishermen, foragers, herders, chefs, food historians and folklorists about what foods they've seen dramatically decline over the past few decades.

Among other findings, some of the endangered foods on their way to recovery include the Mission olive, silver fox rabbit and standard varieties of turkeys or heritage turkeys. The desert plum and Carolina northern flying squirrel are still considered too endangered to be eaten.

A slide show accompanying the article pictures a number of endangered foods native to various regions of the country, and says of the Nickajack apple:

The Nickajack apple is said to have originated where Cherokees lived along Nickajack Creek in Macon County, N.C. A large fruit, it has a crisp white flesh that changes flavor as it ripens, becoming aromatic. It's currently only commercially available in a handful of nurseries in the region.

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