Heritage Foods Committee

Heritage Foods Committee is dedicated to the preservation of regional food biodiversity through a series of programs.

Ark of Taste

The US Ark of Taste is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates.

First Slow Food Asheville accepted nomination:

The Appalachian Foods Storybank

The Appalachian Food Storybank, a program of Slow Food Asheville, seeks to acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage foods and foodways in order to promote the preservation of diverse local knowledges, natural resources, and food biodiversity.

The Storybank will be an archive of stories from individuals, families, and communities about southern Appalachian foods – from how they are grown or harvested, to ways of preparing and preserving them, to anecdotes of family or community rituals surrounding food. Our main goal is to provide a way for folks to record their food stories and histories for their children and their grandchildren. In addition, the stories we help collect will be used for educational purposes to highlight the unique lifeways, history, and culture of Appalachia.

What is a Heritage Food?

The Appalachian Foods Storybank will examine locally cultivated or wild plant varieties and animal breeds, and their traditional preparations, within a 100 mile radius of Asheville, NC.

To be deemed ‘heritage’, these foods should be considered an historically integral part of the gastronomic environment and social fabric of a multi-generational Appalachian community. For the purpose of promoting the localization of food networks, the AFS might also acknowledge specific food products that honor the agricultural history or natural ecosystems of Western North Carolina and adhere to a spirit of tradition.

2011/12 Theme – Preservation

The Appalachian Food Storybank will focus on the theme of “preservation” in 2011/12.
Preservation includes any method or preparation that is intended to transform a foodstuff into a state that is more shelf stable than the original food or food product. Also applicable subjects include foods that are prepared with preserved foods.

Examples of preservation methods include drying, fermenting, canning, curing, and pickling. Examples of foods prepared with preserved foods include sauerkraut dishes, stack cakes, foods made with ham hocks or lard.

Exemptions are available upon request.

Arranging an Interview

Have you ever wanted to record your family’s stories about living in the mountains, and
especially about foods that were special to your family or community? Do you remember your  mother cooking on a wood stove? Does your grandmother make the best stack cakes in town, or does your father grow beans that his grandfather gave him? Do you have an aunt who puts everything up in the summer, and who has stories about her childhood keeping a garden or foraging in the woods for serviceberries? We would like to help you preserve these stories that are so important and precious. The Appalachian Foods Storybank is a collective of trained volunteers who can come out to interview you or a family member, record the stories, and either video or photograph the interview. All of the material will then be provided to you to keep for and pass down to your family.

How It Works

  1. First, talk to your family, and especially the family member that you want to interview. Do you have a topic in mind? Does your family member feel comfortable having folks that they may not know come to talk to them?
  2. Give us a call, or send us an email. We can talk about details and discuss how we can arrange the interview – will it be at a house, or at the old home place, or in the community center? Do you and your family want photographs or video, or neither? What would make the interviewee most comfortable?
  3.  The interview will be scheduled. We will arrange for one or two of our volunteers to come at a time that is convenient to conduct the interview. The interview will probably last about an hour to two hours.
  4.  The interview, video, and photographs will be processed and provided to you as a keepsake.
  5. For the sake of education, we request that you share the interview, videos, and photographs with us for public use.

Requirements for interview

The subject of the interview should be one of the following:

  • A locally cultivated or wild plant variety used for consumption
  • A locally cultivated or wild animal breed used for consumption
  • A traditional food preparation
  • Life and events in the woods, on the farm, and in the garden

The subject of the interview should adhere to all of the following:

  • Located within a 100 mile radius of Asheville, NC
  • Considered an integral part to the traditions and life of a family or a community
  • Considered “of mountain heritage” and “traditional” by the interviewee

Nomination Form

If you would like to nominate yourself or someone you know to have their oral food history taken, please click here

Heritage Food Committee Members

Tia Bednar

Tess Pendergrast

Ashley Gillett –  Mountain Bizworks

Susannah Gebhart – Appalachian Food Storybank, facilitator

Jim Smith – Earth and Spirit Design

Barbara Swell – Log Cabin Cooking

Brian Knickrhem, Red Stag Grill at the Grand Bohemian

Clair Brodhead, Thatchmore Farm

Suzy Phillips, Gypsy Queen Cuisine


For More Information:    appalachianfoodstorybank@gmail.com