Beyond the Golden Leaf: Tobacco, Food Culture and a Changing Farming Landscape (Gravy Ep. 50)

Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.

For generations, farmers in western North Carolina have relied on tobacco as a core crop, their lifeblood. It was more than just income, though: tobacco supplied these families with a cultural backbone, a way of ordering their year—and their meals. So, what’s happening to that culture as the tobacco industry has changed?

In this episode of Gravy, radio producer Jen Nathan Orris tells the story of two farmers following different paths, and how food is part of the solution for each.

Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.
Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.

Learn more about Robin Reeves’ farm here.

You can learn more about farms transitioning away from tobacco from the Golden Leaf Foundation, here.

Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.
Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.

Buster Norton’s farm doesn’t have a website, but if you happen to find yourself in Grapevine, North Carolina, we highly recommend you go to his farm and buy yourself a jar of “molasses.”

The Norton Farm sorghum "molasses." Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.
The Norton Farm sorghum “molasses.” Photo by Jen Nathan Orris.