Four things I learned about red peas

  • Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 4:36 p.m., Updated: Thursday, March 6, 2014 4:42 p.m.
Rhett Evans, Butcher and Bee Co., prepares shellfish stew over Carolina Gold rice Wednesday before the start of the Potlikker Film Festival at High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston. Buy this photo

The Southern Foodways Alliance, which is stationed in Marion Square throughout the festival, on Wednesday night staged a Potlikker Film Festival. In addition to screening short documentaries about mullet throwing on the Alabama-Florida border and paddlefish caviar collecting in Arkansas, the SFA showed its film spotlighting Sapelo Island's red pea project, the current grassroots effort to wring profit from a traditional row crop.

(If you missed the party, the SFA streams its films for free online at southernfoodways.org. The group also is convening a red pea panel featuring Anson Mills' Glenn Roberts and a pair of Sapelo Island growers today at 4 p.m. in the Culinary Village.)

1. Even pea growers are challenged over whether they know the difference between peas and beans. (Peas are smaller.)

2. Red peas take about two months to cultivate.

3. Entertaining is frequently impromptu on the Georgia sea island: One neighbor calls another, asking what's in the refrigerator. After a few more calls, they've assembled an afternoon potluck, or "get-together." The spread might well include red peas.

4. One of the red pea project's top goals is to revitalize the island's agricultural economy, giving young people a reason to "live, love and die" in their ancestral community.

Hanna Raskin

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