Radical Radicchio

Posted on Thursday, 7 October 2021 under Stories

If you have ever wondered what that bitter red leaf in your salad mix is, you may have already been acquainted with radicchio; a chicory that was first introduced in the 15th century in northern Italy. Chicory was first domesticated in the Middle East and the Balkans then eventually brought to the Mediterranean basin where it was diversified. Farmers have long adopted radicchios as a way to supply the market with out-of-season substitutes for lettuces. Radicchio can be particularly cold tolerant, withstanding temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius.

We have 15 farmers across BC involved in the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and the Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI) trials on radicchio (many growing out multiple trials). These participants are shaping the future seed of this unique vegetable. With 27 different varieties being trialled and replicated across Canada, farmers are assessing traits such as colour, the density of heads, ideal planting times, winter hardiness, storage, and the intensity of bitter or sweet flavour.
To learn more about this radical vegetable, check out radicchio tastings near you and select your favourite variety! We are collaboratively hosting the 2021 Vancouver Radicchio Festival alongside UBC Farm, and Chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co on October 20th, 2021. Get those bitter buds ready for business and register here.