Worth the Trip — Bon Appétit Appalachia
The Appalachian region stretches from upstate New York, charts south along the Appalachian Mountain chain and dips into northern Mississippi. It encompasses the eastern swath of Kentucky, where the economic landscape has long been impacted by the geography and heritage of the area. The Appalachian region includes 420 counties in 13 states, end to end.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency founded under President Lyndon Johnson. Besides advancing tourism in the region, the ARC helps improve infrastructure, jobs, leadership and growth in numerous sectors impacting economic stimulation. In 2014, the ARC and its Tourism Council launched Bon Appétit Appalachia, a campaign to promote and cultivate the region’s unique food assets and entrepreneurial spirit.
The campaign has partnered with 13 edible publications throughout the region, highlighting in a fold-out map the wealth of small businesses, farms, events and restaurants throughout Appalachia. The 200 spots on the printed map represent a range of potential destinations for visitors. Some have long been part of the fabric of the region — family farms or summer festivals, farmers markets and restaurants. Others are more recent entrepreneurial ventures, including a wave of breweries and distilleries that make good use of local ingredients and traditions.
Online, at visit appalachia.com, an interactive map expands on the printed version and shows more than 900 spots—each one offering another chance for visitors to see, and taste, the region. Search by state, driving route or type of destination: from vineyards and wineries to “farm-to-fork” restaurants.
The wealth of information is densely packed, but it’s a good problem to have. For example, the Bon Appétit Appalachia map showcases how Appalachia’s food entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the emerging craft brewing and small batch distillery industry.
There are more than 35 small-batch brewers and distilleries on the print version of the Bon Appétit Appalachia map, and nearly 100 such businesses on the online version — each one bottling a bit of Appalachia’s terroir.
To supplement the maps, visit appalachia.com contains suggested itineraries for road trips throughout Appalachia that bring together treasured farmers markets, wineries, restaurants and farms. There’s a calendar of events full of unique festivals and celebrations.
Edible Columbus has also worked closely with the ARC to develop a podcast series called “Backroad Journeys,” which explores the local food heritage of the Appalachian region, and off - the-beaten-path tourism and is available through edible Radio on iTunes.
Each episode explores a particular artisan or experience, like a quaint Kentucky bed and breakfast called Snug Hollow Farm, where an on-site organic farm, sprawling forests and abundant wildlife provide a unique backdrop for guests to recharge and relax.
Photos and map courtesy of Bon Appétit Appalachia