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053 – Sounds of the Summit, 2016 Appalachian Food Summit

053 – Sounds of the Summit, 2016 Appalachian Food Summit



Revival Work. Welcome to Sounds of the Summit, a compilation of stories, music, oral histories, and regional food studies collected during the 2016 Appalachian Food Summit in Berea, Kentucky. Back in 2013 or thereabouts, an interesting discussion developed on Facebook. Did cornbread have sugar in it? Or not? There were enthusiastic supporters on both sides, so much so a few enterprising folks decided to create a Facebook group dedicated to Appalachian Foodways. Then someone, maybe food writer Ronni Lundy, suggested we meet and discuss this important issue. Maybe over food. And fellowship. And bourbon. And more food.

With those words the first Appalachian Food Summit was born. That first year at Hindman Settlement School we had a church potluck, talked about heirloom seed saving, recorded oral histories, and listened to incredible bluegrass music. The following year saw us in Abingdon, Virginia at beautiful Heartwood, where Chef Travis Milton created a gourmet cafeteria-style meal he deemed “The Fancy Ass Picadilly” and Nancy Bruns of JQ Dickinson Salt-Works taught us all about the origins of salt mining in West Virginia. Just to name a few. Because Appalachian lessons? Stories? There were a lot. It must have been quite something because the Southern Foodways Alliance awarded AFS its John Egerton Prize in 2015.


This year found the summit in Berea, Kentucky where the college has given us a home base in which to explore themes around regional identity, myths, and the culture of extraction for the next few years. The theme was “Routes and Roadways” and over two days dozens of authors, scholars, and foodways enthusiasts presented their findings. Appalachia is a traveled region, whether you’re headed up the hill, through the holler, or just a traveler passing through. It’s been that way for hundreds of years. What has changed? What hasn’t? The 2016 summit attempted to find out.

And find out it did. In this episode I present seven summit speakers intertwined with my own thoughts after attending. It’s a unique episode and one I had great joy creating. As they say in the movies I laughed. I cried. And in the end it reminded me why the Appalachian Food Summit remains the food cause closest to my heart. Because although I’m not always sure of my connection to the region, I always know I’m welcome to the table. Thanks so much for your support of this effort. By listening, you donate $1 to ensure the 2017 summit will be the best ever. Cheers.

FABULOUS PRIZES! Listen and win. Starting next Monday, November 14th, I’ll choose one winner per week for the next five weeks. Thank you to these local business for donating:

Summit Speakers – There were SO many great ones. Please check out the full lineup here. And thank you to the following musicians, storytellers, and scholars for offering up their art for this episode:

  • Matt Parsons, musician.
  • Robert Gipe, author of Trampoline.
  • Courtney Balestier is a West Virginia writer whose interests focus on Appalachian food and culture, particularly issues of identity, belonging, and class (Episode 52).
  • Silas House is a nationally bestselling writer and serves as the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College.
  • Dr. Alicestyne Turley is the Director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education and is an Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies at Berea College.
  • Toni Tipton-Martin is an award-winning food and nutrition journalist and community activist who is busy building a healthier community through her books, classes, and foundation. Toni is the author of the James Beard Award-winning book, The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks.
  • Ronni Lundy has long chronicled the people of the hillbilly diaspora as a journalist and cookbook author. Lundy can currently be found behind the wheel of her trusty Astrovan, touring the country with her newest critically-acclaimed book, Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes.
  • Special thank you to Amy Campbell Rochelson of The Tennessee Farm Table podcast, who graciously lent me her recording of Robert Gipe’s reading when my own bit the big one. Thank you Amy!
  • Special thank you to our head organizer Lora Smith, without whom none of this would have been possible! You’re a rockstar Lora. Thank you.

This episode is sponsored by YOU.  That is, if you listen. It’s only $1 and all proceeds benefit the 2017 Appalachian Food Summit. Thank you.


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  • Kelsey


    Hello! excited to listen to this episode- I just purchased for $1.00 but is still not allowing me to listen to more than the first 12 minutes…not sure how to unlock the whole episode?

    • Jenée Libby


      Hey Kelsey, I just emailed you. Tell me if that link doesn’t work. Sorry for the problems!