March 1, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Call it the great collard shortage of '14.
From Pungo to western Tidewater, fields that should be green with tall, leafy collards are instead striped with limp, yellow rows - the plants splayed out on cold, wet ground.
Blame a brutal winter that brought record-low temperatures, multiple measurable snowfalls, willful winds and plenty of rain.
Collards are a hearty, cold-weather crop and as much a tradition on Tidewater tables as striper and country ham. Since colonial times, home cooks have simmered pots full of the greens for hours with pieces of fatty pork called streak-of-lean. Local chefs turn collards into salsa and stir-fry dishes.
The winter season started normally, with local farmers meting out their plantings so the harvest would stretch into spring. The polar vortex nixed those plans.
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