Further Reading: Food heritage-related books!

The Times and Tastes of Culpeper, by members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

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

Brunswick Stew!

The origins of the popular southern dish, Brunswick Stew, is often debated. “One version of Brunswick Stew traces its origins to Brunswick County, Virginia. Tradition has it that the dish was created in 1828 by an African-American chef, ‘Uncle’ Jimmy Matthews. While serving as camp cook during a hunting expedition, Matthews shot squirrels combined them with onions, dry bread and other ingredients, and made dinner.”

 First catch your chickens, clean and cut them.

And in an iron pot you put them.

And water nearly to the top

And in it salt and pepper drop;

Boil slowly. Your tomatoes peel;

Put in a shin or so of veal;

And for the flavor bear in mind,

A chunk of middling with the rind.

Next some onions you throw in,

the young and tender skin,

And butter beans do not forget;

And what is more important yet;

The corn, but do not be too fast,

For you must cut and add it last;

For better than the flour you’ll find it’ll do

To give some thickness to the stew.

Some lemon peel cut very thin

May then be added and stirred in,

And ere it’s taken from the fire

Give it a dash of Worcestershire,

And soon you will hear its praises ring,

This is a dish fit for a king.

–Virginia Woodroof, 1930

This recipe was supplied by Ann Chandonnet, author of The Pioneer Village Cookbook, which can be found here! Don’t like to cook? Attend Richmond’s Brunswick Stew Festival next year! More information can be found on our food heritage events page.

Faces of Farmers

facesoffarmers logoFaces 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!

aspokendish logoA 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!

Community cannery going strong after 70 years!

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.





Reclaiming Our Food

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.

How Do We Define Virginia Food Heritage?

Food heritage celebrates the connection between the food we eat, the land it comes from, and the people who produce it. The Virginia Food Heritage Project saves our food heritage by connecting you with stories about foods that have been or are currently grown, processed, prepared, exchanged, sold, or consumed in Virginia.

Have a favorite old recipe? Please share it!

Have a favorite historic apple? Please tell us about it!

Are you growing heritage crops? We’ll add you to our map!

Are you raising heritage breeds or making special cheeses? We want you on our map!

Our commitment to preserving our cultural heritage includes a commitment to:

  • supporting our farmers;
  • supporting our seed savers;
  • supporting our chefs and food artisans;
  • supporting education about our food heritage;
  • supporting those trying to preserve and grow our food heritage;
  • combining the best of the past and the present.

Virginia Hams Virginia Cookery Past and Present

A Few Food Definitions

Heirloom vegetables are cultivars (cultivated varieties) that meet three criteria:

  1. They are older than 1945 (dates vary, but I like this one because it allows us to capture the Victory Garden varieties).
  2. They are open-pollinated (meaning they come true from saved seed).
  3. 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

Heritage Toolkit

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.