Ramps Are One of the Best Foods to Forage in Early Spring – These Are Their Health Benefits

The abundance of early spring is a delight for foragers, who scour the forest floor, treeline canopy, lake, pond and rivers edges for wild vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and similar delicacies.

Ramps are one of the simplest and easiest spring foods to find, as they are one of the first wild vegetables to emerge and one of the most visible and problem-free to search out, find and harvest.

Ramps aren’t typically found at grocery stores, but they could very well line the menu of your favorite farm-to-table, local restaurant, or the tables and boxes at local farmer’s markets.

These leafy green, slightly pungent veggies are a member of the Allium tricoccum, or wild leek, family, and are similar to leeks, scallions (green onions), shallots, chives and garlic.

As such, they provide incredible health benefits when added to spring salads or stir-fries, and are a well worth searching for in forested areas this spring and beyond.

 

Ramps Have a Specific Growing Range

Wild Leek growing range..

The wild leek (ramp) growing range. Via Prairie Moon Nursery

Ramps tend to grow in areas where the soil is rich, and prefer higher elevations to lower, although they can be found in both areas. According to the website MyCherokeeGarden.com, these wild vegetables were a key food source for North American, Cherokee Indian tribes.

Ramps are found in the woods, not cultivated, and they take seven years to reproduce by seed. If a population of ramps is over-harvested, they could take up to 150 years or more to regrow, as only about five percent of ramp seeds sprout after a germination period of up to two years. These healthy wild vegetables are abundant in the Eastern part of the United States with a range down to Alabama, but their range dies off out West around Oklahoma and the Dakotas, as shown by this map.

The good news is that ramps are abundant and easy to pick if you live in any of the areas shown on the map, including the Midwest, Appalachia, and parts of the American Southeast including Alabama and Mississippi.

 

Ramps: Also Known As ‘Spring Onions’ and ‘Wild Leeks’ 

Ramps are reminiscent of the previously mentioned vegetables but perhaps most resemble green onions in terms of their taste and composition. They are more delicate and fragile than store-bought green onions, but provide similar health benefits.

Both ramp greens and lower-white ramp stalks are edible, with a stronger taste than a leek and more pungency than a scallion.

Ramps are one of the first crops to sprout up from wild soil, but they do not last especially long in most areas.

They can be pickled, giving them a longer shelf life, and taste great in a homemade pesto, vinaigrette, or herb-infused butter. In 2023, the price of wild ramps skyrocketed to almost $35.00 per pound since they are sought after by chefs and restaurateurs.

 

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Ramp (Wild Leek) Health Benefits: Similar to Scallions, Garlic 

The allium family is famous for its healing compound allicin, which is most famously found in garlic.

Ramps contain this compound, which helps to kill parasites, detoxify the body and flush out impurities. Ramps contain 16 calories per serving and four grams of carbs per serving according to the website FarmStarLiving.com.

Additional Health Benefits Include: 
-May help promote health gums and teeth
-Promote eye health
-Improves eyesight
-Improves bone and muscle health
-Prevents night blindness
-Relatively high in vitamins A and E for its food category
-Improves immune system health
-A good source of Vitamin K1 which supports heart health and healthy blood clotting
-Rich in sulphur compounds kaempferol and allicin, which protect against heart disease and cancer and provide anti-microbial, cholesterol lowering capabilities, respectively

Unique recipes are shared in this video:

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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.

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