Onion enthusiasts uneasy as Vidalia crop ships

FOREST PARK, GA -- A fresh shipment of Vidalia onions arrived Tuesday at the State Farmer's Market in Forest Park, following a litigious winter of discontent.

"I was choosing Texas Sweet last year over Vidalias. They tasted better," said Arnold Harden, a Georgia man who says he is an onion enthusiast.

The winter followed a season of complaints over last year's Vidalia onion crop - derided as lacking the onion's characteristic sweetness.

"Vidalia (onion) is sweet like candy when it's good," Harden said. Last year's crop, he said, "had that bad aftertaste for like hours."

State officials said last year's Vidalia onion crop was substandard because growers pulled them out of the ground too soon. Vendors say onions pulled too early have a short, squishy shelf life.

"They turn black inside" when they're picked too early, said Juan Martinez, produce vendor at the Farmer's Market. State officials won a court battle to prevent onion growers from harvesting their onions prior to this week--- in an effort to protect the Vidalia's taste and its brand. Vendors are hopeful that this year's later onions will undo last year's damage. Martinez says he likes what he sees so far.

"This year, everybody's glad they have good onions," Martinez said.


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