The Foxfire Book Series That Preserved Appalachian Foodways
West Virginia Public Broadcasting – The 1,500-mile Appalachian Mountain range stretches so far that those on the northern and southern sides can’t agree on what to call it: Appa-LAY-chia or Appa-LATCH-ia.
The outside perspective on the people who live there might be even more mangled. Stories about Appalachia tend to center around subjects like poverty, the opioid epidemic and coal, but since 1966 a series called Foxfire has been sharing food, culture and life as it’s actually lived in the mountain region.
Foxfire started as a class project at a Georgia high school — students interviewed neighbors and wrote a series of articles, which turned into a quarterly magazine and then a book, in 1972, with other books to follow soon after. (The name of the series comes from a term for a local form of bioluminescence caused by fungi on decaying wood.)
Within the first decade, more than 9 million copies of Foxfire were sold. Today, there are specialized Foxfire books that focus on cooking, winemaking, religion and music.
People who have been following the back-to-the-land food trends that have resurfaced in the past decade might find some of the recipes in Foxfire’s Appalachian Cookery familiar and focused around a simple, self-sufficient way of life.
Although foraging and using imperfect vegetables and local food are popular concepts today, they’ve been a way of life for generations in many cultures.
..Or an interview with a woman named Ethel Corn who loves wild greens, and says that adding them into your diet can provide a corporeal “spring cleaning”? There are long recollections of the everyday act of cooking for large groups of people — whether dinner for a big family or special events.