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New Convert Craziness

May 11, 2012

Last summer I came across a Barbara Kingsolver nonfiction at a book sale. I had read her fiction 10-20 years ago and enjoyed each, so grabbed this one and put it on my bedside table, planning to sell it as a used book in my book business when I finished with it. Instead I bought a second copy and gave it as a gift.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an entry vehicle for many people open to the concept of eating local food and food in season.

Last October my husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Urbanik of Cafe Cimino in Sutton, West Virginia. We spent an hour with him as he explained how he started his restaurant and the importance of using the freshest local ingredients he can find. That evening and the next morning we enjoyed two wonderful meals that demonstrated why he is so successful.

And then, the thing that tipped the balance for me….we were invited to be part of Team Cimino in the Cast Iron Skillet Cook-Off in January and I met Allen Arnold of the Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia. The Collaborative’s mission is to support West Virginia’s small farms through marketing, agritourism and educational programs. Allen asked me to write this blog.

The point of the blog is to help introduce the farms to the public…. people who eat AKA the consumers. I am so excited to be part of this. As a fairly recent arrival in West Virginia (5 years ago) I was pretty dismayed at the lack of farms near Huntington identified in the resources I researched. Now I am learning there are farms scattered throughout the state producing a lot of wonderful food. And more markets are opening, making fresh local farm products more easily available to everyone.

Some operations are well established and fairly successful, like Fish Hawk Acres in Rock Cave. Dale Hawkins’ ability to identify market needs and fill them is amazing. His CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) allows members outside of his drop areas to access fresh farm produce through overnight mail shipment.  His CSK (Community Supported Kitchen) offers people who want to enjoy Chef Dale’s cooking to order and purchase prepared dishes.  As a successful chef, he also offers catering  as a part of his business.

Most of the farms I have visited, however, are small and many are first generation endeavors. Their unique issues are varied, but many have one huge thing in common: how to make a living doing something they love and want to share   with the public.

So, like most new converts into any new concept, religion or otherwise, I distilled it down too far. I believe that if more people purchase the local food offerings, not only will the farmers have a better financial return, but the consumers will benefit greatly.

And that is true.

I started to try to figure out why people don’t already think this way, forgetting that I just jumped here myself a few months ago.  And I was already trying to minimize use of  processed foods and fast foods. So I was easy to persuade.

So, a deep breath from me….re-evaluating the way I want to present info here in this blog. So more people will listen….and learn…..gently.


I updated the post with the photos to identify. Go to Identify the photos to see how your guesses were.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2012 11:52 am

    Can’t wait to see more! Your cumulative body of work has the added benefit of documenting the state of WV’s Small Farms – and the people involved in bringing ‘more WV food to WV eaters’ – the people of our Beloved Local Food Movement. I am glad to be in your company ~ I appreciate every last one of you.

    • May 12, 2012 12:00 pm

      And I appreciate all I am learning as I visit farms and speak to local food users in restaurants as well.

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