Confounded by Cake and Leftovers

And in other news, Wisconsin's beloved ginseng

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This week I was faced with new Thanksgiving information: some people do not expect or want guests to take home leftovers. I thought it was a given that everyone is sent home with something covered in foil, but according to my Twitter poll, only 66% of people agree. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments here - I’m still marinating on this.

There’s also this cake issue … but this person’s just trolling … right??? Or tell me if you identify cake by its frosting, I have so many questions.

How Cultivated Ginseng Took Root in Wisconsin

By Sheila Julson

Wisconsin is popularly known for cheese and beer, but the dairy and suds state is also America's top producer of ginseng, a culinary and medicinal root popular in East Asian countries.

American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) is native to Wisconsin. Indigenous people have long used the root to treat digestive issues and fevers, but ginseng has only been cultivated for larger-scale commercial use in the state for about a century. In the early 1900s, brothers Walter, John, Edward, and Henry Fromm started growing crops of cultivated ginseng under canopies, which serve as shade structures to protect the slow-growing perennial herb during its early growth. (It takes four to five years to bring ginseng root to harvest.) Their efforts kicked off the contemporary cultivated ginseng trade in central Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Marathon County produces 95% of commercially grown ginseng in the United States, and it is coveted worldwide and particularly throughout Asia. Wisconsin’s cooler climate and rich, well-draining glacial soil gives its ginseng a unique bittersweet flavor profile not found elsewhere.

Today there are dozens of family-owned ginseng farms throughout central Wisconsin. One of the largest is Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprise, started in 1974 by Paul C. Hsu. He was born in Taiwan and later migrated to Wisconsin, where he was inspired to get into the business after he sent local ginseng to his mother to help her improve her health. Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises operates on approximately 1,000 acres and helped the city of Wausau become internationally known for its cultivation of American ginseng.

And the wild ginseng hasn’t gone anywhere. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operates the Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Program, which regulates the harvest, sale, and purchase of the wild ginseng that grows in the state’s shady, deciduous forests: Those regulations are separate from cultivated ginseng.

The annual International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival was on hiatus in 2020 and 2021, but the festival is expected to return in 2022.

Sources: Ginseng Board of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; “Ginseng: the official herb of Wisconsin,” December 2017 Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau report; “Ginseng for Your Supper,” Wisconsin Foodie, air date Jan.17, 2019; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.

Additional articles and reports:

Wisconsin Public Radio


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