John T. Edge, 2014

John T. Edge, 2014

John T. Edge is the founding director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, as well as an author and chronicler of the American South. Through the lens of food, John T. presents this region’s tumultuous social and agricultural past. Learning from this history, John T. charges Southerners with paving the way for a progressive, diverse, and honest future. John T. has long been a friend and collaborator through our Friends of the Café dinners, which benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance’s research and programs.

From John T.:

“I remember an early catalog punctured by shotgun blasts. And hand stitched dresses colored by smoke from a barbecue pit. 

I remember her profound humility. And the radical ideas she unspooled during long and circuitous conversations. 

She was using fashion. I was using food. She saw common purpose in our work. At first I was flattered. Then I stepped back to watch and learn and recognize that she was right. 

The picture above captures us during a dinner in Florence. Natalie was the host. The Southern Foodways Alliance was the beneficiary. 

Note where we stand. Natalie is in the rear, laughing big, smiling the smile of an imp. I’m up front where she asked me to be, probably trying to tell a story that connected food and fashion and sustainability, definitely trying to say thanks for her abiding grace and crazy vision. 

This picture radiates with joy. That’s because Natalie radiates with joy. 21 years after she began this work, her subversive and joyful ideas still challenge and inspire all of us who get to stand by her side as she rethinks and reinvents and reanimates this place we call home.”

—John T. Edge, author, founding director of the Southern Foodways Alliance

Learn more about the Southern Foodways Alliance, and follow along @southfoodways.

Learn more about John T. Edge here.

Find The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge here.


Slide 1: John T. Edge delivering an introduction full of  insight, history, and, of course, wit (Natalie is seen laughing in the background) for Asha Gomez’s Friends of the Café dinner, August 2017, photograph by Abraham Rowe