Camp Bacon, Education, Food

Yes, We Corn: Highlights from Southern Foodways Alliance’s 19th Symposium

Illustration by Katy Clune/

Illustration by Katy Clune/

It’s no secret that we have a lot of love for Southern Foodways Alliance. Our annual Camp Bacon event is, in part, a fundraiser for the organization, which “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South,” and Ari has been attending their annual symposium for over decade.

“I’m a huge believer in the work of Southern Foodways,” he says. “They’re probably the non profit food organization that, to me, most embodies the values and worldview that we have here at Zingerman’s. They take their learning, their work and their food really seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously.”

The focus of SFA’s recent fall symposium—past topics have included Women at Work and the Global South—was corn. The four-day event at University of Mississippi explored corn as a symbol of the American South, its role in sustaining the population and the problems that arise from its production. The program included speakers, artists, and plenty of good corn-centric cooking.

Ari’s favorite moments included Mark Essig’s talk about the history of corn in the American South, David Shields speaking on his work to find and bring back dozens of nearly lost heirloom seed varieties, and  Caterina Passidomo talking about her grandparents’ polenta. Other interesting talks included Michael Twitty on corn in the diet and cooking of enslaved people and Bart Smith’s history of Coca Cola and its relationship with corn.

#Brunswick #stew #sfa16 #food #Southernheritage

A photo posted by Michael W. Twitty (@thecookinggene) on

As far as food goes, Ari’s highlights were Nancie McDermott’s Brunswick Stew supper and Helen Turner’s pork barbecue.

You can see a recap of SFA’s 19th Symposium here and watch some great films produced by the organization here. If you’re interested in going to next event, El Sur Latino, you can find out more here.