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A Vidalia onion is a sweet onion of certain varieties, grown in a production area defined by Georgia law and by the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The varieties include the hybrid yellow granex, varieties of granex parentage, and other similar varieties recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
The onions are named Vidalia because of where they are grown, Vidalia, Georgia (growing there started in the early 1930s). The different varieties are unusually sweet, due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown.
The Vidalia onion was named Georgia's official state vegetable in 1990.
Georgia's state legislature passed the "Vidalia Onion Act of 1986" which authorized a trademark for "Vidalia Onions" and limits the production area to the following counties of Georgia that have or any subset as defined by the state's Commissioner of Agriculture. The current definition includes:
- The following thirteen counties: Emanuel, Candler, Treutlen, Bulloch, Wheeler, Montgomery, Evans, Tattnall, Toombs, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, and Bacon.
- Portions of the following seven counties: Jenkins, Screven, Laurens, Dodge, Pierce, Wayne, and Long.
Since Georgia statutes have no legally-binding effect outside Georgia, producers and handlers meeting the standards defined by Georgia law requested, and the United States Department of Agriculture promulgated, a Federal Marketing Order which defined the production area as a matter of United States federal law.
In popular culture
- Country singer Sammy Kershaw released a song named 'Vidalia' in 1996 as a single from the album Politics, Religion and Her. It is a wordplay song about a woman named Vidalia who, the singer says, "always makes me cry."
- The 1999 album Oh! The Grandeur, by American musician Andrew Bird, includes a song called 'Vidalia', an ode to the onion in question.
- Olsson, Tore C., "Peeling Back the Layers: Vidalia Onions and the Making of a Global Agribusiness," Enterprise and Society, 13 (Sept. 2012), 832–61.
- Vidalia Onion Committee official website
- History of the Vidalia Onion
- Entry about the Vidalia onion from the New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Marketing Order 955: Vidalia Onions, from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website
- Vidalia Onion History and Facts
- CFR Title 7, Part 955