Lodge Bolsters Mission of Southern Foodways Alliance

Cast iron cookware manufacturer invests in studies of region's food and culture

The Southern Foodways Alliance’s work with Lodge Manufacturing Co. influenced the company to develop its new museum. A longtime supporter, Lodge has made a $150,000 gift to SFA to further its mission of documenting, studying and exploring the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Lodge Manufacturing Co., a fifth-generation, family-owned cast iron cookware company in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, is strengthening the mission of the Southern Foodways Alliance with an unrestricted gift of $150,000.

Based at the University of Mississippi‘s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the SFA works to document, study and explore the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

The partnership between SFA and Lodge began more than a decade ago. The company’s cast iron cookware can be found in many kitchens across the South, where it’s used to make regional dishes – old and new – that the alliance’s work highlights.

“Food and cuisine tell stories that are directly related to the development of our country,” said Mike Otterman, CEO and president of Lodge Manufacturing. “Through the growth of industries and reflection of economic times, food has been at the center of it all, bringing families of different cultures and generations together.

“Grandma’s skillet is part of the fabric of the South – there is no one better at collecting and preserving the stories of the South than SFA. Oftentimes, those stories touch on cornbread or other favorites that are made in a well-seasoned skillet.”

SFA officials expressed appreciation for Lodge’s longtime support of the organization.

“Lodge’s contributions have helped fund SFA work to share oral histories, produce films and podcasts, publish original writing, sponsor scholarships and mentor students,” said Mary Beth Lasseter, interim co-director. “Together, we are elevating the story of the South’s regional food culture.”

Mary Beth Lasseter

Besides its documentary efforts, the SFA also hosts events that celebrate the diversity and creativity of Southern foodways, including the organization’s annual fall symposium that brings together chefs, scholars and food enthusiasts from around the world to explore Southern food culture.

Otterman noted how the company’s work with SFA influenced Lodge as the company developed its new museum, located beside the manufacturing plant.

“We are grateful to have worked with the SFA team in the development of the Lodge Museum of Cast Iron,” Otterman said, “They were the driving force behind the food culture section of the museum that brought multiple Southern cuisines to life for the visitors.

“We hope to encourage everyone to enjoy what Southern food has to offer, whether you’re from the South or elsewhere. The goal is to bring families together to share the love of Southern food for generations to come, just like Lodge cookware.”

Thanks to Lodge’s continued support of the work being done by SFA, many more students and Southern foodways enthusiasts will be able to learn about the South’s foodways, Lasseter said.

For more information about supporting the Southern Foodways Alliance, contact Claire Moss, associate director of development, at claire@southernfoodways.org or 662-915-3380. Click here to contribute.