Stricter Black Lung Regs, Buttermilk & Bible Burgers, Ramps and More


Pittsburgh makes progress in its battle against climate change.

New rules to prevent Black Lung Disease are announced.

Buttermilk and Bible Burgers are just two foods represented in Appalachia.

Another is ramps and they’re in season right now.

Kentucky’s Food Gap Map. Hunger issues continue to complicate life for many families across Appalachia.  As WEKU’s Stu Johnson reports, this reality is reflected in the just-released Map the Meal Gap Report.

West Virginia Chemical Spill Update. With little known about the chemical compound MCHM, public health was and remains the focus of January’s spill of the chemical by Freedom Industries into the Elk River near Charleston West Virginia. Public health officials, including Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, gathered this past week for an online presentation hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials to detail ongoing efforts to address the problem. West Virginia Public Radio’s Dave Mistich has more. 

Pittsburgh Makes Climate Change Progress. Recently Pittsburgh’s mayor announced that the city is making progress in efforts to reduce its contributions to climate change. Though most people who live in Pittsburgh might not know it, the city has a climate action plan.  It’s designed to reduce the carbon footprint of businesses, local government, citizens, and the universities.  The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple has more.

New Black Lung Regulations. Long awaited regulations aimed at reducing the number of coal miners who get Black Lung Disease were announced in Morgantown, West Virginia, this past week. As West Virginia Public Radio’s Glynis Board reports, it’s the first time coal dust levels have been lowered since 1973. 

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Chris Hamby Reacts to the Regulations. Another journalist attending the announcement in Morgantown was Chris Hamby from the Center for Public Integrity. He’s worked over the past year to document the stories of miners with black lung disease and their battles to claim health benefits and treatment. Hamby was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. He sat down with West Virginia Public Radio’s Ashton Marra to discuss his year-long investigation, his Pulitzer and the newest rule released by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Buttermilk and Bible Burgers. Food often provides a universal connection across cultures- think President Obama taking part in a meal at a famous sushi restaurant on his trip to Japan this past week. For about 30 years now Greenville, Tennessee, native Fred Sauceman has been documenting Appalachian food culture through a class he teaches at East Tennessee State University as well as journalistic endeavors on television, radio and in print. Sauceman spoke with West Virginia Public Radio’s Cecelia Mason about his newest book is Buttermilk and Bible Burgers: more stories from the kitchens of Appalachia.

Wild Ramps Endangered? One of the Appalachian foods mentioned in Fred Saucemen’s book Buttermilk and Bible Burgers is wild ramps. Richwood, West Virginia, is home to the oldest ongoing ramp festival, and by the end of this weekend the town will serve 2,000 pounds of the wild leeks. Ramps are nothing new to most people in Appalachia. People here have been eating, or avoiding, them for hundreds of years. But 20 years ago, ramps began appearing on menus at gourmet restaurants in New Jersey and New York City, and recently ramps have started to be sold in some specialty grocery stores across the country. But researchers say not all of these ramps are being sustainably harvested. From Allegheny Mountain Radio and the Traveling 219 Project, Roxy Todd brings us this story about saving wild ramps before it is too late.