By Mary Beth Breckenridge
Akron Beacon Journal
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Interest in garlic has mushroomed among foodies who appreciate the subtle differences among varieties. This has been super news for a couple of Ohio entrepreneurs who are profiting off of their love of the veggie.
Fred Thaxton rarely ate garlic growing up.
Then he married a woman of Italian ancestry, “and my wife’s putting garlic on the eggs in the morning,” he said with a wry smile.
Thaxton became a convert. Now he and his wife, Chris, grow some 20,000 bulbs of garlic each year at Thaxton’s Organic Garlic, their small farm in this city outside Akron.
The Thaxtons aren’t alone in their love for the flavorful, aromatic vegetable. Interest in garlic has mushroomed among foodies who appreciate the subtle differences among varieties, this one hot at first bite, that one producing a nutty aftertaste. Health-conscious eaters prize garlic’s therapeutic properties, which range from lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to warding off several kinds of cancer.
That interest, in turn, has sparked an increase in the number of garlic farms in the United States from 2,277 in 2007 to 3,408 in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thaxton’s Organic Garlic is among them. So is Charlie’s Gourmet Garlic, another small-scale garlic producer a few miles away.
The businesses have different models: Charlie’s sells mainly to the public, while Thaxton’s caters largely to restaurants.
Both, however, are helping to raise awareness that there’s more to garlic than the white bulbs found in just about every grocery store.
Each farm raised 11 varieties of garlic this year, with romantic names like Music, Pskem and Czech redfire and flavors that vary from smooth to spicy.
Both farms use organic growing methods, although only Thaxton’s is certified as organic by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Charlie’s hasn’t sought that certification because it can’t control its neighbors’ use of chemical sprays, said Charlie Feldman, who operates the farm with his wife, Marjorie.