View this email in your browser
Photo: Katlin Kazmi/Provided


Last week, I introduced you to the cultural and culinary blends of The Pakalachian. Though we are firstly a food truck, our intentions and hope for impact go deeper than just the food we serve. Mohsin, my husband, and I work diligently to improve the world around us through every endeavor we undertake, even beyond The Packalachian.

Mohsin also co-owns Tamandua Expeditions, an ecotourism company that guides tours to the Peruvian Amazon, providing jobs for local citizens and protecting roughly 20,000 hectares (49,000+ acres) of rainforest. He has conducted two TEDx talks for his work in conservation photography and his photos have been featured on multiple platforms, including Mongabay, the Today Show and Discovery Channel. 

Mohsin’s commitment to conservation, combined with my drive to support real, authentic education, drives many of our business practices. This week, I want to explore the sustainable practices we employ and their link to the natural resourcefulness present in Appalachia.

Photo: Mohsin Kazmi/Provided

We embody personal resilience here in Southwest Virginia. It’s in our blood. This is an important quality because it speaks to self-sustaining characteristics congruent with a natural need for survival. We see new in old. My dad cannot turn down a broken piece of machinery for the sole reason that it may have a part he can use on something he already has and a little rust certainly doesn’t scare us away. We can provide our own meals. Every single house I pass has a garden. Foraging for morels and chicken of the woods is a family tradition. Hunting season slings the door open at dawn and “pointers” us in the right direction by the afternoon. Our hobbies also usually include upcycling in some way, as we dye yarn with surplus vegetables, make cider vinegar with cores and peels and decorate our porches with corn stalks in the fall. 

All of this folds into the naturally eco-friendly culture created in Appalachia.

A quick anecdote: When I was younger, my grandmother would see a coin on the ground and always pick it up saying, “Pennies make nickels, nickels make dimes, dimes make quarters, quarters make dollars and dollars build a house.” She said this more times than I can count, going through the entire phrase every time! Though I found it trivial when I was 10, she was right. I believe conservation builds much the same way: Each small act is a penny. The culmination of these acts by more people and businesses over time builds the framework for something better.  

On the food truck, we adamantly seek to operate our business in ways that minimize our environmental impact. We serve in compostable containers with biodegradable spoons, recycle plastics and aluminum and compost all of our food waste from meal preparation. Pennies make nickels. We maintain a “no waste” mentality so we often sell out. On the rare occasion we misjudge and end up with leftovers, we offer these items at a discounted rate to those in the community with an identified need. Nickels make dimes.

Photo: Katlin and Mohsin Kazmi/Provided

All of the produce used on our truck is either sourced locally, putting money back into the Southwest Virginia economy, or grown ourselves. We want to reward growers in this area who are working hard to produce quality products, and there are so many who are doing just that. Dimes make quarters. Every Saturday morning the lines at our local farmer’s market are long, and the appreciation for locally grown food is palpable. 

Our friend, Nathan Breeding, has taken the concept of a local farmer’s market just a step further with his small business, Southern Culture. His mission is simple: “Support our food systems. Revitalize the passion of our communities to grow and protect culinary culture and each other.” He offers products from the same growers at our local farmer’s market in Abingdon (and others!) to both commercial and private buyers. He’s developed a way to support these growers on a larger scale. Speaking for a business that must buy in large quantities, we are appreciative of this work as it makes sourcing from our community farms much easier. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Nathan has expanded to home delivery and incorporated a farm share option. Small steps towards a greater good for the area as a whole! Quarters make dollars.

Photo: Katlin and Mohsin Kazmi/Provided

We have a couple lofty long-term sustainability goals as well. We have purchased a centrifuge that will assist in turning old fry oil into biodiesel that will eventually power our generator. We would like to become completely carbon neutral, offsetting our emissions by contributing to carbon savings on local land in our area. We’ve even considered a composting operation for all Abingdon small businesses to participate in. And dollars build a house.

Our belief is that anything worth doing is worth doing with impact in mind, especially the operation of a business. Both Pakistani and Appalachian cultures beam with pride and resourcefulness, as evidenced through the work ethics of those in both parts of the globe and in our constant pursuit of expressing the deep appreciation for the places that built us.

Next week, I will discuss more about the intersection of our work with the agriculture industry in our part of the region. See you back here then!


Copyright © 2020 100 Days in Appalachia, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
WVU Media Innovation Center, Evansdale Crossing Building,
4th Floor 62 Morrill Way, Morgantown, WV 26506

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp