Already an established – albeit unusual – symbol of the nation, Wales’ link with the humble leek has grown even stronger, after it was announced versions of the vegetable cultivated in Welsh soil will gain protected status.
Welsh Leeks are the latest Welsh product to be awarded Geographical Indication (GI) status, granting leeks grown in Wales legal protection against imitation, while also serving as a mark of quality. It is our 19th product to be awarded GI protection, joining a roster of famous Welsh produce that includes Carmarthen Ham, Conwy Mussels, and everybody’s favourite part of a traditional Welsh breakfast: Laverbread. (If you’re not familiar, it’s made from seaweed and so beloved that laverbread has its own day of celebration.)
Leeks grown in Wales are prized for their peppery taste, sweet, buttery aroma and crunchy texture. They also have a longer flag (the part of the vegetable with leaves) than leeks grown elsewhere in the UK and have a more vibrant dark green colouring.
The bid for Welsh Leeks to receive GI status was led by Puffin Produce, based in Pembrokeshire. Speaking about leeks receiving the substantial GI title, the company’s CEO, Huw Thomas, said, “The leek is an iconic emblem of Wales – we are incredibly proud to be able to grow Welsh Leeks and the GI status is hugely important to promote the quality and heritage behind this majestic crop.”
The association is said to hark back to the 7th-century, when a Welsh king, Cadwaladr, instructed his soldiers to strap the green vegetable to their armour to easily distinguish friend from foe on the battlefield. In commemoration of this event, the Tudor royal household (who were of Welsh origin), had their guards wear leeks on their uniform during special occasions. This set a precedent that continues to this day, with patriotic locals pinning a leek to their lapel each 1 March to celebrate the day of our patron saint, St David’s Day.
The new GI status ensures Wales' bond with leeks continues to flourish; the wonderful root veg that's a perfect complement to any dish – or outfit.
Learn more about the flourishing food scene of Wales.