I began researching Eating Local in Virginia several years ago. At the time there was a little locavore activity going on in Virginia, albeit not much. But Virginia is blessed with amazing resources and ingenious people. The land is both exuberant and abundant. Fortunately for all of us, there was evangelism, of sorts, coming out of the small community of Swoope in the Shenandoah Valley. Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm, had become the nationally-recognized preacher of organic living, fervently exposing the pitfalls of factory farming. In Southwest Virginia, Appalachian Sustainable Development began organizing farmers and helping them develop their land into organic farms. A number of other concerted efforts began to spring up around the state—in Tidewater—the cradle of America’s agriculture, farmers and fishermen began to see the value of sustainable foods.
As knowledge grew exponentially of the damage we were doing to our environment and to our health though our reckless ways of farming and distributing food, people began to wake up. Even those with seemingly “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” began to wake up. People just plain began to see that in our quest for abundance we had destroyed the exuberance of the earth. They came to realize that an acre of land could grow something besides corn to be turned into processed food—the same processed food that was killing us. An acre could also grow food that was medicine to our body.
Suddenly there appeared a need for a guide to point people in the right direction, to show them that there is a network of farmers out there producing clean, antibiotic free, hormone free, and non-genetically modified food — the same sort of food our grandparents ate — the kind that was medicine to them. Good tasting food, sustainable, and life-giving back then — as it is now to us.
It was important for folks to know about these farms, I felt, and also to know that there are restaurants in Virginia with caring chefs who support farmers by buying local and organic meats and produce — striving to prepare healthy food for their clientele. I believed that it was important for people to know where they could buy these foods, not only from the local farms, but also from a growing number of health food stores and food co-ops who carry locally produced food. And so, with the help of so many people, Eating Local in Virginia grew into a book.
I hope that you will find this guide useful as you search out new foods and new places to buy food. Please watch this website for listings of new farms growing sustainable foods, and updates on old friends you may have met in the pages of this book. I hope you will enjoy this site. The greatest complement to me will be if it changes your life.