Faces of Farmers is a website run by students at the Allegheny Mountain School to help support farmers in their community. “The idea behind the site is that by telling the stories of farmers in our area, we can help connect producers and consumers, so people know who their food is coming from and how it is produced. Though a solid start, this website would be no where without the help of Kat Rutt who designed the logo and a positive editorial by the Recorder, our local paper.”
A Spoken Dish is a storytelling project dedicated to celebrating and documenting food memories and rituals from people across the South. “The goal of A Spoken Dish is to document the palate of a changing South; one that demonstrates the diversity of our communities by way of what lands on the supper table,” producer Kate Medley said. Learn more and watch videos here!
The Keezletown Community Cannery is one of the oldest community canning kitchens in the United States and is the only privately-owned facility of its type in Virginia. Located in the fruitful Shenandoah Valley in a small town called Keezletown, the Cannery first opened its doors and fired up its cook kettles in 1942.
After nearly 70 years of preserving fresh harvests, the Keezletown Community Cannery is still open! Individuals and groups are invited to use this community facility to learn how to can or to quickly and easily can large batches of fruits, vegetables, sauces, or other foods.
- “Spoken Dish Asks Southerners: What is Your Food Identity?” Debbie Elliott, npr.org, June 17, 2013
- “Heirloom Seed Project Growths with Community Input” Edie Rogers, news@UNG, January 29, 2013
- “Welcome to the Golden Age of American Food” Scott Mowbray, cookinglight.com, November 2012
- “CBJ: Love in a jar, jobs in the community” Brian Wheeler, dailyprogress.com, July 2012
- “Farm is a family legacy” Laura McFarland, thewinchesterstar.com, July 2012
- “The Food Heritage of Virginia: An Untapped Asset of Community and Economic Development” Lucas Lyons, Mary 2012
- “True Grits: In Charleston, a quest to revive authentic Southern cooking” Burkhard Bilger, newyorker.com, October 2011
- “Central Virginia’s Very own Albemarle Pippin has a Wonderfully Rich Flavor, with a History to Match” Lisa Reeder, Edible Blue Ridge, Fall 2009
- “Our Dwindling Food Varieties” National Geographic: a graphic demonstrating globe’s reliance on an increasingly smaller variety of foods
Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens, by Andrew Beahrs
The Pioneer Village Cookbook: Reliable Receipts & Curious Remedies, by Ann Chandonnet
Dishing Up Virginia, by Patrick Evans-Hylton
The Taste of America, by John and Karen Hess
Out of the Ordinary: Recipes from The Hingham Historical Society, by The Hingham Historical Society
Secrets of the Blue Ridge: Stories From Western Albemarle, by Phil James
Food on the Frontier: Minnesota Cooking from 1850 to 1900 with Selected Recipes, by Marjorie Kreidberg
The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, by Mark Kurlansky
Cod: A Biography of Fish that Changed the World, by Mark Kurlansky
The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food – Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation’s Food was Seasonal, by Mark Kurlansky
Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food, by Jackson Landers
An Irresistable History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Whole Hog Barbecue, by Rick McDaniel
Bush Medicine of the Bahamas, by Jeff McCormack
Desert Terrior: Exploring the Unique Flavors of Sundry Places of the Borderlands, by Gary Nabhan
Where Our Food Comes From, by Gary Nabhan
Peanuts: The Illustrious History of the Goober Pea, by Andrew F. Smith
Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in American, by Andrew F. Smith
Fading Feast: A Compendium of Disappearing American Regional Foods, by Raymond Sokolov
A Garden Supper Tonight: Historic Seasonal Recipes & Home Lore, by Barbara Swell
Mama’s in the Kitchen: Weird & Wonderful Home Cooking 1900-1950, by Barbara Swell
Old-time Farmhouse Cooking: Rural American Recipes & Farm Lore, by Barbara Swell
The Way We Ate: Pacific Northwest Cooking, 1843-1900, by Jacqueline B. Williams
Written by: Tanya Denckla-Cobb
All across the country, Americans are seeking more fresh, local foods – at home, in their schools, in restaurants, and at food markets. Grassroots community food projects from Boston to Nashville to Birmingham to Seattle are rising to meet this demand. Led by innovative, creative people from all walks of life, these projects are building community by creating valuable jobs, preserving cultural traditions, building local knowledge about growing food, and educating school-children.
Where others have made the case for the local food movement, Reclaiming Our Food shows how communities are actually making it happen. This book offers a wealth of information on how to make local food a practical and affordable part of everyone’s daily fare.
Download the final report from our Food Heritage Workshop held in March 2012.
Click Here to Download
The Virginia Food Heritage Project recognizes food as part of cultural identity and cultural heritage. Recognizing that heritage encompasses the origins of plants and animals and their dispersal, as well as the locations where people have historically processed, prepared, exchanged, sold, or consumed foods, we seek to document the connection between the food we eat, the land it comes from, and the people who produce it.
Specifically, our project encompasses locally produced foods tied to the region’s history and cultural identity. In addition, recognizing that few of us have deep decades-long connections to the places where we now live, we will also seek to highlight the contributions of newcomers, innovators, and adaptors to the local “foodshed.”
Accordingly, our informants will generally fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Heritage informants: those with at least a grandparent generation in the heritage area.
- Professional informants: “new farmers,” chefs, extension agents, and others working in professions related to the inquiry.
- Academic informants: those who work in academic disciplines related to the inquiry.
- Innovators and enthusiasts: those with a passion though not necessarily a family connection or professional affiliation.
Our commitment to preserving our cultural heritage includes a commitment to the preservation of our physical environment through supporting and promoting sustainable systems of agriculture and the use of traditional seeds and agriculture that combine the best of the past and the present.
A Few Food Definitions
Heirloom vegetables are cultivars (cultivated varieties) that meet three criteria:
- They are older than 1945 (dates vary, but I like this one because it allows us to capture the Victory Garden varieties).
- They are open-pollinated (meaning they come true from saved seed).
- They have an established provenance through families, regions, and more rarely through now-defunct seed companies or university breeding programs (like the Rutgers tomato).
Heritage vegetables are pretty much the same thing as heirlooms, with the added condition that the breeds have ethnic or cultural significance–like Romano beans in Italy or Fish pepper for African Americans in the Chesapeake region.
In the U.S., it’s more common to use heritage to refer to animal breeds. When the term is applied, it indicates:
- Unique genetic traits
- Bred to withstand disease
- Adapted to environmental conditions
Most heritage breed associations also include requirements such as these:
- Recognized as breed since at least 1925 (dates vary)
- Endangered or rare
- Living on pasturage, rather than raised in “industrial” conditions
The cultural traditions and heritage of every community can be an engine for driving economic development if they are preserved and shared with others. The FARM2U Collaborative® has developed a toolkit with five (5) easy-to-use guides that enable communities to identify their cultural assets and use them tobuild relationships with tourists that can be sustained for years to come.
The Toolkit focuses on heritage tourism, both cultural and culinary. Once your community decides what makes your “homeplace” attractive to tourists, you can create an authentic experience that will be rewarding for the visitor and community alike.
Early Virginia Indians hunted, fished, and collected wild grains and berries, which they prepared in various ways. Meats were roasted, while grains and tubers were pounded into ashcakes and then baked.
For many millennia, boiling water was difficult, but by the Late Woodland Period (AD 900–1600), technology had improved among the Powhatan Indians of Virginia such that a large ceramic stew pot became the focus of family eating.Roasted meats, shellfish, and wild berries were all added to the stew, which boiled throughout the day.
Read more from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities “Encyclopedia Virginia” –>