One of my goals during my year of service with Grow Appalachia is to personally develop healthy and local food habits. I never imagined this would be easy for a city boy whose only culinary skills previous to becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA were cooking eggs and preparing microwave dinners. I can only cook eggs because my good friend Brenna taught me, following this discussion:

Me: I don’t know how to cook. I’m gonna die when I live on my own.

Brenna: Psh. You won’t die. You know how to cook eggs, right?

Me: No.

Brenna: Oh, no. You are gonna die! (Proceeds to instruct me in basic egg-cooking.)

However, I have been steadily increasing my basic culinary skills as well as my awareness of local and healthy foods. The first need in this quest was supplies. Luckily, my mom visited me about a month ago and gifted me a blender, as well as a toaster oven from my dad. Hurrah! Later, I chanced by a yard sale at my landlord’s house and purchased a large knife, sieve, can opener, and ladle, all for under $2! My roommate and I already had a frying pan (for eggs!) and I bought a pot with a nice top to go with it. We were ready to get cookin’, literally.

With help from my friend Mills, I visited Wal-Mart (don’t worry–we’ll get to the local foods in a bit) and I bought fruits, vegetables, cooking spices, and meat! She later helped me (or should I say I helped her) to cook some chicken curry. It was fantastic! The next day, with the knowledge I had gained, I attempted to make myself and my roommate some chicken alfredo, and what do you know?


It was delicious and filling! Voila–I might just make it on my own!

The next week I upped my game and bought eggs and tomatoes from the Berea Farmers Market. Now, the Market is open on Tuesdays @ 3-6 and Saturdays from 9-1 (it’s also at our monthly First Friday festivals), so I only usually get out there after work on Tuesdays. If you were wondering, I often miss it on Saturdays because…sleep. I used some of my new ingredients, as well as some tomato sauce I had helped to process and can at work, to make my friends and I some spaghetti and meatballs. It was scrumptious, and it felt pretty special to know I had helped to grow the tomatoes I was eating. Food you help grow is filling in more than one way.

On to this morning! I woke up early (for me) and made it to the Saturday market. I bought some strawberry jam from Jennifer Walden, wife of GA Technical Director Mark Walden; some great looking pepper jack from Heavenly Homestead Cheese in Windsor, Kentucky; a 100% soy wax candle from Honeysuckle Hollow Farm; about 2 lbs. of chicken breast from Lazy Eight Stock Farm; and a savory Thai-style crêpe from a man named Don Weber (from Paint Lick, Kentucky) who made it right in front of me with garden-fresh ingredients. It turned out to be a fantastic breakfast! I think this will be a new Saturday morning tradition for me 🙂


Happy local farming, shopping, and eating!

Marcus Plumlee