Preserving the tastes of the past ...

An interview with Humberto Monarrez from The Scrumptious Pantry at Green Festival Chicago 2013.Another product vendor booth we stopped by at the Green Festival was The Scrumptious Pantry (which you may recall Ed had shot an interview with a couple of months back when he attended the Good Food Fest). They are an interesting operation as they’re devoted to “heirloom” produce. What, you might ask (although I’m pretty sure most have heard the term at least in regards to tomatoes), is “heirloom”? This is a description from The Daily Green:

Heirloom vegetables sound fancy but are simply the kinds of vegetables everyone ate before the days of mass-produced produce. These are veggies that look and taste the way nature intended, and some come with old-fashioned names and fun stories …

Heirloom seeds essentially are seeds that come from plant varieties introduced at least 50 years ago. Like an oak dresser or wedding ring, they’re passed down within a family through the generations. Some are passed from gardener to gardener, or sold by garden shops and seed companies … that have prevented the extinction of heirloom fruits and vegetables …

We spoke with Humberto Monarrez about what they were currently featuring:

As noted above, most “heirloom” plants have a back-story, and the “Beaver Dam Pepper” is no exception … here’s the version from the Scrumptious Pantry’s web site:

The Beaver Dam Pepper is an heirloom variety introduced to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, by an Hungarian immigrant around 1913. It has a great mildly spicy taste profile, which we accentuate with a brine of old world spices, using one of the classic Midwestern preserving techniques – pickling.

As the Beaver Dam Pepper is difficult to cultivate, it got abandoned with the advancement of hybrid varieties, landing it a spot on the Slow Food Ark of Taste. In this directory Slow Food, a non-for profit promoting good, clean & fair food, lists heirloom varieties that are on the brink of extinction.

As mentioned in the video, The Scrumptious Pantry products are available in various stores around the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, as well as through their web site, and Facebook page

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