I adore parsnips.....roasted, diced and fried, mashed. Never knew the bit about Western Mass despite growing up on Cape Cod...what makes them special?
I don't know the weather/soil combination that makes it work, but the idea is common in agriculture. Worcester County in Massachusetts, for example, is known for McIntosh apples, yet our Red Delicious are average (at best). The Red Delicious (and others) are at their prime around Wanatchee (sp?) Washington. California grows world class wine grapes around Sonoma and Napa, yet in the central valley, they are only excellent. The best scallops are landed at Digby and New Bedford, and as a fried clam fanatic, you know about those Ipswich Clams.
Parsnips are a minor crop, and they were a staple in Europe long before the new world foods came around starting in the 1500s. They do look like a white carrot, but I don't know if they are related.
A few of the Western Mass guys grow them because buyers know that if they buy potatoes, carrots etc, they can get a case of parsnips on the same load without a delivery fee. If having a case of parsnips available sells a load of spuds, it is a good deal for everyone.
post edited by tmiles - 2013/03/10 18:42:01