It starts a few hundred feet beneath the ground in Malden, West Virginia, 345 to be exact.
This is where J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works drills for their ancient ocean brine resulting in a salt like nothing else on the market. Co-owner Nancy Bruns along with her brother Lewis are seventh generation descendants of the original Dickinson family who first drilled for the same water source in 1817. In 2013, Nancy decided it was time to revive the tradition and bring salt making back to land.
I asked Nancy about how the coal industry often dominates national headlines about West Virginia. "We have a lot of opportunities here, beautiful land and hard working people. We just need to shift the dialogue. At some point you have to say ok, we’re not going to wait for it to come back and move on.” You can find their salt being used by Thomas Keller at The French Laundry to Sean Brock's Husk.
All Images © Michael J. Chen 2016