Wild ramps are the quintessential spring food. Found in moist, shady areas of deciduous forests, they literally pop up out of the ground soon after the first warmth of spring. Sometimes referred to as wild leeks, the entire plant, from the snow- white bulb to the rich green leaf, is full of health-promoting minerals and poly-phenols.
Wild foods, in general, are more nutrient dense than their cultivated descendants. Throughout the long course of interaction between humans and the plant world, wild plants have been bred to be sweeter and therefore easier to consume. The rich, earthy, allium taste (the family to which ramps, leeks, onions and garlic belong) has, over the centuries, become less intense. In addition to the dilution of flavor, the cultivated progeny of the original wild plants lose some disease-fighting nutrients.
At Dr. Cowan’s Garden, we want to bring back some of the nutrient density and flavors of these wild foods. Wild ramps are rich in iron, containing 10 percent of the RDA for iron in one serving; are loaded with the sulfur-containing substance kaempferol, which protects the blood vessels; and have an abundance of choline to support brain function. Wild ramps are also rich in the class of plant chemicals known as polyphenols, which are used by the plant to ward off diseases and predators. As many authors have recently pointed out, humans use these same polyphenol chemicals to prevent a whole host of human illnesses. One could say a healthy diet is a polyphenol-rich diet, and there is no better source of polyphenols than wild vegetables.
And, as many chefs have discovered, the flavor of wild ramps is not to be missed. Our ramps are harvested from wilderness areas, they are processed within days with gentle heat and packaged in Miron jars. Our Wild Ramps Powder is the only way I know for most of us to enjoy the flavor and nutrition of these spectacular and rarely available plants.
Tom Cowan, M.D.