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Old seed catalogues blazon the luridly colored images of fruits long lost, and the “letters” department of old agricultural journals and garden magazines abound with rhapsodies over the taste and ease of cultivation of grains and vegetables that have not been commercially cultivated in a half century. The late twentieth century was a time when taste took a backseat to productivity, disease resistance, processability, transportability, and “product uniformity” in cultivars. Yet for millennia, good taste has been the signature of nutrition, not just for humans, but for all animals.

Slow Food is a movement about the preservation of taste in food. For the Ark of Taste in the Southern region, we are proactively looking for storied items that we want to see restored to fields, orchards and tables. We have a most wanted list. When the word goes out with an image, people start looking. Will you help?


  1. Red Upland Rice — West African glaberrima rice was distributed by Jefferson through the South for dry culture in gardens. It was cultivated in upstate Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Kentucky.
  2. Southern Tall Growing Rye — This six-foot-tall rye was grown throughout the Piedmont and Mountain South on even the poorest land. It’s the original rye whiskey rye.
  3. Palmetto Asparagus — Bred in the 1890s in South Carolina and established throughout the South as a crop, this thick and tender stalked asparagus disappeared when pencil-thin asparagus became fashionable. Seed held by the USDA is non-viable.
  4. Castleman Lime — This is the largest lime ever cultivated, bred originally in California, then spread through the specimen tree community.
  5. Amelia Peach — First bred in Orangeburg, South Carolina in the 1840s, this large oblong peach had a pale yellow skin extensively marbled with crimson. With white flesh and a rich, forward flavor, it was a popular yard peach well into the twentieth century.
  6. Rice Birds — Rice birds (bobolinks) were the bane and glory of the Carolina rice plantations. While the small birds were often served basted and broiled, the signature Lowcountry dish had them baked in a pie. They are now endangered.
  7. Hoffman’s Seedling Strawberry—Possibly extinct, this sour-sweet strawberry had the subacid edge that was favored by many Southerners prior to 1930. However, sour-sweet varieties fell out of favor when mellow-sweet berries became the universal favorite.
  8. Kentucky Red Crabapple — The largest of the red crabs, one catalog described it in 1894 as, “Tree vigorous, very hardy and immensely productive; fruit small, red, keeps well till spring, and can be made into very superior cider any time during the winter.”
  9. Rome Pecan — Two nuts vied for the title of best size: the Rome and the Nelson. The former eventually triumphed. The variety spread throughout southern nurseries. Nelson is extinct. Perhaps some Rome trees survive.
  10. Long Grained Carolina Gold Rice — a casualty of the Civil War, this long-grained sport of Carolina Gold was considered the greatest rice in the world in the 1850s. This may have to be back-bred into existence.


{{ image(5164, {“class”: “flor round”, “width”: “150”, “height”: “200”}) }}In spring 2015, we shared a most wanted poster for the Dyehouse Cherry, the signature sour pie cherry of Appalachia that stopped being cultivated in the 1950s. In the last week of December, word came that it survives on the farm of Dan Dutton in Somerset, Kentucky. Now efforts are being made to have it propagated. The Appalachian food revival needs its famous local dishes and also its key local ingredients. This will be one.