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PGI Status: Could Welsh Leeks Become The Cornish Pasty?

If an application is approved, leeks cultivated in Wales could be designated as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and gain international recognition.

According to food historian Carwyn Graves, the vegetable has been associated with Wales, and they added that it had been a part of its culture for 1,000 years.

Mr. Graves claimed that the capacity to grow leeks all year in Wales’ milder environment had historically aided in preventing hunger.

According to farmer John Addams-Williams, the national vegetable and emblem is unique and must be “protected.”

Do You know about PGI status?

The UK government grants PGI classification to protect and promote identified regional food items with a reputation or distinctive qualities unique to that region.

There are various methods in place worldwide to earn PGI status, all of which must adhere to strict World Trade Organization criteria.

The UK Geographical Indications (GI) list now includes 18 Welsh goods, including the prestigious PGI distinction.

If approved, only Welsh leeks will be permitted to carry the UK PGI badge, ensuring that the leeks were cultivated in Wales.

Slowly grown, with a robust flavor

Mr. Addams-Williams, who works at Puffin Produce in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, which filed for the new designation, described it as a “great opportunity” for Wales’ agricultural economy.

“We need to promote Welsh industry because our leeks are distinct from those sold elsewhere,” he remarked.

Many of the leeks marketed in Wales are farmed overseas, but Mr. Addams-Williams claims that Welsh leeks are cultivated more slowly, have a more excellent flavor, and are used in national cuisine like Welsh cawl.

“The more symbols we have for our national identity, whether it’s a daffodil or a leek, the more essential they are, and we must conserve them. It’s all part of our heritage and culture, and the more we do, the better.”

What is the significance of leeks in Wales?

“Leeks go back a lot further than people might imagine,” food historian Carwyn Graves said.

“Many countries have plants that symbolise them, and some of them have been around for hundreds of years, but the Welsh leek may have been around since the beginnings of Welsh nationhood.”

He said that during the Saxon era (410-1066AD), Welsh soldiers used leeks as a distinguishing marking and fought battles in leek fields.

While there isn’t enough evidence to establish these stories beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Graves claims that “people were referring to leeks as a kind of marker of the Welsh by the early Middle Ages, so the mythology has been there for at least 1,000 years.”

He added that leeks have also been utilized in the arts to represent Welsh people.

Welsh men wear leeks in their caps in Shakespeare’s Henry V, published in 1599, and an anonymous ballad from around the same time mentions the vegetable being worn on St David’s Day.

Unlike other national emblems, such as the tulip in the Netherlands, Mr. Graves claimed that the leek had a practical purpose in Welsh communities.

He claimed that because they flourished all year in Wales’ warmer environment, they were “certainly one of the key things that preserved the Welsh from scurvy.”

“The leek is a fantastic vegetable that is both versatile and delicious.”

PGI designation, according to Glyn Roberts, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, will help raise awareness of Welsh goods.

“PGI designation is more vital now than it has ever been since we are in a global market, and the food we produce in Wales is unrivalled,” he continued.

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