Farm to Table and “Southern Foodways as Cultural Memory and Everyday Resistance.”


Southern Seed Legacy Program in Denton, Texas.

This post is part of our weekly “The Seed and the Story” series, a partnership with the Courier newspaper and the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History and Community Action. 

Did you have a chance to attend the CAAH (Conserving Arkansas’s Agricultural Heritage) Pope County Seed Swap last Saturday? We had a wonderful time meeting gardeners (both aspiring and experienced), giving away marigold seeds, and spreading the word about our work via the McElroy House Organization. You can visit our webpage to check out photos from the event and learn more about seed swaps happening in other parts of the state. While you’re there you can also check out the McElroy House site for our recent contributions to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, including an entry for Sulphur Springs and Chickalah.

For all the readers interested in gardening, storytelling, foodways, southern cooking, and local food, there’s an upcoming event that will be of interest to you. The Arkansas Tech University Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative and the ATU Anthropology Club is sponsoring a southernthemed Farm-To-Table Meal next Friday evening, March 8th. Hosted by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Hospitality Administration, the event will be held at the Williamson Dining Hall on the campus of Arkansas Tech. Everyone in the community is encouraged to attend!

Farm-to-Table meals, a somewhat recent concept drawing from ancient traditions, feature foods grown in the area, thus showcasing the wide selection of local food while also supporting area growers and calling attention to the importance of local food security. The event will begin at 5:15 with guest speaker Dr. Jim Veteto, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Texas. He’s studied traditional foodways and agriculture in the US Mountain South for the past two decades and has written extensively about heirloom vegetables and fruits. He is the co-author of the book The Slaw and the Slow Cooked: Culture and Barbecue in the Mid-South and the director of the Southern Seed Legacy Project and the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies at University of North Texas. He’ll be giving a presentation focusing on heirloom and old-time seed varieties throughout the south, entitled “Southern Foodways as Cultural Memory and Everyday Resistance.” The talk, explains event coordinator Dr. Joshua Lockeyor, “will draw on his research to highlight the fact that traditional foodways are very important to Southerners in the construction of cultural identity, the continuance of cultural memory and heritage, and as resistances against the homogenization of industrial food and agriculture systems.”

The chef for the event will be Cynthia Malik who was born and raised in Little Rock and approaches food as a way of giving back to her home community. She graduated from Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 2001 and went on to work in Vail Valley, Colorado where she assisted in the opening of the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. She returned to Arkansas in 2006 and now teaches at Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School. The talk will begin at 5:15 followed by a three-course dinner starting at 6:15. For reservations or more information contact: 479-968-0378. This is a great way to learn more about area growers and meet others interested in supporting local food systems that affordable for everyone.

Did you grow up eating homegrown foods? I’d love to hear about it! Click on the “Contact” link to send me an email. Thanks so much for reading!

More on Farm-to-Table events and history:

2011 article from on how farm to table movements are growing local economies.  (What are your thoughts on this piece?)





The Seed and the Story is a partnership with the Courier and Post Dispatch newspapers in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. This weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.