Appetite Appalachia

It's November, and the growing season is over for most vegetables. But even with the frosts and the shorter days, not everyone has retreated indoors. 17-year-old Connor Haynes is spending two months worth of Saturdays building a shed and rain barrels in a community garden in Charleston. Connor is working on his Eagle Scout badge, and he's also using the project to honor his friend.

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The phrase “food-desert” might sound like a landscape of sagebrush and armadillos, but it's really a place where SlimJims, chicken nuggets and Slurpies count as dinner. A food desert can happen anywhere- we've all seen them. People who live in a food desert may be surrounded by food—fast food or convenient store hotdogs, instead of fresh, healthy food.

Roxy Todd

It's early morning around 6 am, and I'm standing with Chef Tim Urbanic in the kitchen of the Cafe Cimino Country Inn. Tim grew up in western Pennsylvania in a coal camp, and his mother, Julia Cimino, was a first generation Italian immigrant from Calabria.

“The polenta was a staple in our family. This is a polenta that I've known all my life, since I was a little kid. We add to this Romano cheese, fresh butter, and then we use water for the base.”

Allender Stewart

In southern West Virginia, Reed's Mill has been stone-grinding local cornmeal since 1791. It's one of the few gristmills that has been in continual operation in this country, and it grinds a local heirloom corn that has been passed down for generations.

Lauren Stonestreet, of Elle Effect Photography

 

In 1851, salt from the Kanawha Valley was awarded the world's best salt at the World's Fair in London. Now, more than 160 years later, one of those old salt companies has been revived by brother and sister Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne. Last weekend, the JQ Dickinson Salt-Works celebrated their 1-year-anniversary. I toured the salt-works and talked with Chef April Hamilton as she prepared food for the salt soiree.

 

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