Martor No. 22 / Year 2017

Reinventing Mountain Food Traditions and Small Farm Survival in Southern Appalachia

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Author: Chris Baker

About the author:

Chris Baker
Professor of Sociology, PhD., Walters State Community College, Morristown, U.S.A
E-mail: Chris.Baker at ws dot edu

Pages: 81-90.

Keywords: sustainable agriculture, tourism, farming communities, culinary renaissance.


For over four decades, social scientists have addressed the relationship between development strategies and Appalachia’s highland cultural traditions. Historically, mountain foodways and diversified agricultural practices were defined as aspects of primitive folkways legitimating resource extractive industries and centralized development strategies. Today, the region contains many of the nation’s remaining family farms. The processes of globalization and growing demand for local foods are introducing highland farming traditions to new audiences. This case study looks at the emerging role family farms in the East Tennessee valley are playing in development and the social construction of the region’s foodways. Drawing on multidisciplinary perspectives, I focus first on the historical roots and continuity of the region’s culinary tradition. Highland foods represent the core of mountain culture grounded in the ecological and economic experiences of its rural communities. Next the paper discusses the emergence of markets for place-based foods focusing on community development, tourism and a local foods-based culinary renaissance.

How to cite this article: Baker, Chris. 2017. “Reinventing Mountain Food Traditions and Small Farm Survival in Southern Appalachia.” Martor 22: 81-90.