By Allen Arnold - WV Farm 2 Fork Team

Alice Waters opened her now internationally-known restaurant, Chez Panisse, in 1971 in Berkeley, California. From what I know, the concept she developed and then shared with the culinary world of building a locally sourced menu, was truly the birth of the "buy local" phenomenon or what has subsequently become identified as "farm-to-table."

In West Virginia, we also have a strong tradition of eating seasonally and buying local farm products. Today it is commonplace in large part because, a full decade and a half ago, pioneer spokespersons — including Chef Dale Hawkins and the late Chef Harv Christie — helped us understand that in addition to the health and nutritional benefits, and obvious added taste, there were also serious economic reasons for buying West Virginia farm products.

Another West Virginia chef, Tim Urbanic, did groundbreaking work in the farm-to-table movement, actually as far back as Alice Waters in the early '70's. At the time, he was living on a farm in Calhoun County and was so committed to growing organically and eliminating a carbon footprint, he plowed his garden with a horse-drawn cultivator.

In 1999, when he opened his Cafe Cimino across from the courthouse in downtown Sutton, he brought that same commitment to perfection to both the ingredients he used and his style of cooking. He grew the dried tomatoes he used in his recipes in that same garden in Calhoun County...

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