Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 66

guest column

Steven Hopp is co-author of the bestselling book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,"
which is scheduled to be released in a
10-year anniversary edition this spring.
That book is the inspiration for The Harvest Table restaurant in Meadowview,
Virginia, which over its eight years has
become not only a renowned dining
destination but also a national leader
and inspiration in the farm-to-table
movement. Hopp teaches Environmental Studies classes at Emory & Henry
College and lives on a farm with his wife
and with a herd of Icelandic sheep and
Dexter cattle.
by Steven Hopp
We're being robbed. A hundred years ago a visitor to our
mountains could find more than 1,000 varieties of
apples, most of them originating in this region. Now
only a few of these are available commercially, and the
others hang on by a thread in backyards and farms.
The same goes for other Appalachian food varieties
too, like sweet potatoes, field peas, beans, southern
grapes, and heritage corns that were saved for decades
by farming families all over Appalachia. Around 50
years ago corporations started taking over our food system. Profits trumped flavor. Salt and fat trumped cuisine. Shelf life trumped nutrition. And all of us felt the
call to grab a box of rehydrated, microwaveable, corn
syrup-sweetened convenience. Most of these food-like
substances are made from the same two ingredients:
commodity corn and soybeans, or confined animals
fattened on the same.
Appalachia was probably lucky not to have huge
flat fields for growing corn, soybeans and wheat,
so our hills and valleys are largely still unspoiled by
those practices. Instead, we have every growing condition you can picture: shaded or sunny, well-drained
or damp, north- or south-facing slopes. The historical
result has been one of the most diverse food regions in
our country. That's an authentic food heritage for Appalachia, but we're losing it.
66 BlueRidgeCountry.com

Annie Griffiths

Look for Local

Steven Hopp: "Adventure and flavor will be your rewards if you try out
locally owned, independent stores and locally produced goods."

When you visit our mountain region you're not
coming here to see the commonplace, but something
authentic: the perfect waterfall, handmade crafts, a
mountain vista, bluegrass music, a historic site. I'd
suggest you add heritage Appalachian foods to your
quest for the true heart of our region. That means going a little out of your comfort zone to look for local
products. I know the chain grocery stores and national
fast-food restaurants have an appealing familiarity, but
adventure and flavor will be your rewards if you try
out locally owned, independent stores and locally produced goods. Here are some suggestions:
1) Most little towns host a farmers' market, usually
on Saturday morning, but often on other days. Ask
people when and where the market is, and make it a
point to attend. There isn't a better way to find the soul
of a community than seeing what its farmers have to
offer, and that's where you'll find our heritage foods.
2) Find restaurants that source their fare locally. The
number of these restaurants is growing rapidly, and
many are joining the farm-to-table network. If a restaurant does have local items on the menu, thank them,
and if they don't, ask if they would consider it.
When more people ask for heritage foods, more
farmers will be inclined to grow them. That's what we
need to do to get back the treasures we've lost. 


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016

Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 12
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover4
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