I wrote the below piece last month for Flossip. I haven’t posted here in a while, so I thought I would post it for all of you to enjoy here. If you get a chance, though, go over and say hi. It’s a wonderful site for locals.

Flotown’s Organic/Local Slow Foods

If you know me, you know our family is big into the slow food movement. Ok, so the family is not as much into it as I am. Hubby is very happy for the savings in the food budget, though. When you buy fresh, you tend to buy when you are going to use it, so you also get the benefit of not wasting as much food (or that could just be my bad habits…anyone? Buehler?)

The slow food movement was begun in Italy in the late 80s to combat the ever growing gluttony of the fast food market. It is based upon eating real food, not prepackaged, preservative filled foods you get at fast food chains and in super markets. Since the 80s fast and prepackaged foods have become staples of so many American lives. I was lucky, I grew up in a large family and thus my mother cooked most of our meals. So cooking wasn’t a foreign idea for me. I have cousins, though, who have said if it weren’t for a can opener, they would have starved while growing up.

Our reasoning is financial as well as health related. We have three children and live on one income. We might eat out three or four times per month, when things get really hairy around the house with activities and such. We live very cheaply, and very happily. fsA can of beans from the store costs as much as a two pound bag of dried beans. This is the difference between eating one meal or four meals. Eating fresh and local is much cheaper, and it reduces your waste (we have gone from five or six trash bags per week to only a max of three bags – another thing hubby loves about my household changes, since he is the one to go to the dump each week).

Ah, I can see the excitement in your eyes, young padawan. How, you ask, do I get started living this wonderful lifestyle? Well, follow me and I will show you the power of the force. You will discover where to go for all this glorious food; plus you will meet wonderful people who will happily provide you with a whole kit and kaboodle of food inspiration.

My main sources of local and organic foods are just two, count them, two stops. However, I also run a veggie garden in the spring/summer, can and dry foods we grow and purchase and have a flock of chickens for fresh eggs. You can also find small farms or individual growers with overstock who will set up a table in their yards for you to buy fruits and veggies. There is also McLeods in McBee for fruits and veggies. If you are interested in buying a cow for meat, you can stop when you see cattle in someones yard and inquire about if they are willing to sell you all or part of a cow when you goes to out to become hamburger and steaks. Stopping at local roadside stands is also a great way to meet interesting people. Want to know the best way to peel a peach? Stop at a roadside peach stand and strike up a conversation with the people running the stand. Chances are the peaches are from their own orchard and they can give you the best tips (and pie recipes!). There are also your local farmers markets, you can find a listing at www.localharvest.org.

First stop; for all things organic you need to see Cynthia at Trinity Farms. You can find her in the big metal shed at the Pee Dee Farmers Market. (You can find out more about vendors at the Farmers Market at http://www.pdfarmersmarket.sc.gov/vendorlist.htm.) She has raw goat and cow milk for sale, as well as butter made from milk from free range, pasture fed cows. She also had a plethora of organic veggies from her own farm, in addition to organic eggs from her chickens. Cynthia also takes consignments from other farms in the area, so she always has something new and exciting in her booth. And, when you are ready to plant your veggie garden, she will have some wonderful organic and heirloom plants ready for your growing pleasure.

My second stop; Ovis Hill Farms (http://www.ovishillfarm.com/) can actually be found at two different locations (three, if you count the farm store). First location is every Thursday afternoon from 4-7pm at Naturally Outdoors in Florence. You can also find them once a month at The Good Living Marketplace in Hartsville. At this one stop, you have ten separate farms consigning their goods together into one CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In a CSA, you will receive a box of goodies once a month for a very reasonable price. If interested you can contact Jannie Dickson for veggies at dicksoneffn@aol.com or Charlie Caldwell for meat at Charlie@ovishillfarm.com. You can also just show up at their location and browse their selection. They have non-homogenized, low heat pasteurized milk (including some of the best chocolate milk you have ever tried), raw goat milk, butter, organic meats, cheeses. They also have grains, legumes, honey, jams, chowchow, mustard and home baked items such as breads and pies and cakes and cookies (they also have wool yarn from the sheep and goats). If you need something before their vending dates, you can go to their farm store in Timmonsville. Hours are 3-6 Tuesday through Thursday; 10-6 Fridays and Saturdays 10-5. Just give them a call if you have any questions, they are a very friendly bunch: 843-992-9447 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              843-992-9447      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of places to look if you are interested in eating locally. We do not eat 100% organic, that is just not possible due to budgeting and time and store locations (you can find some organic selections in your local supermarkets, but for Earth Fare you have to drive to Columbia and for Whole Foods you have to go to Mt Pleasant). But, if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint on the foods you eat, finding local, healthful ingredients is a wonderful way to start. And remember, it takes 28 days for a new habit to ingrain, so don’t give up! Before you know it, eating out won’t be the first thing that comes to mind when asked “What’s for dinner?”