The West Virginia Future Farmers of America Ham, Bacon and Egg Show and Sale gave West Virginia residents the opportunity to invest in the future of food production.

The annual event was held March 14 at the Capitol Complex in Charleston and featured an auction of the top 50 bacons, 50 hams and 10 dozens of eggs produced by students attending schools throughout West Virginia. Proceeds from the sales go directly to the producer-students, who usually apply their earnings to the next year’s project or their college tuition.

All bacons and hams are processed in state-of-the-art facilities and meet commercial kitchen standards for food safety. “For example, processing facilities must have sanitary walls that are impervious to liquids and can easily be cleaned, floors must be sloped to drains and work areas must be able to stand up to the salts used in cure mixtures,” according to the West Virginia Dept. of Agriculture. “Hand-washing sinks must be foot, knee or elbow-operated and students must have a dress-in/dress-out room where they can change into clean clothes when entering the facilities.”

Additionally, each facility must maintain daily temperature logs to ensure that hams and bacons are cured at the correct temperature.

“This program is a superb educational tool,” Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick, said in a statement. “Students begin by learning to responsibly take care of an animal, and then they learn the skills to use that animal for food. We have been working to encourage these young people to consider becoming full-time farmers because the opportunity is there for them right now to be successful in this profession.”

The West Virginia FFA has a membership of 5,091 young men and women representing 67 high school and middle school chapters. The Ham Bacon and Egg Show and Sales was first observed in 1941, with breaks during World War II.