Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Local Movement

  You might have noticed the local food movement sweeping over the Midlands, and the rest of South Carolina for that matter. I mean its kind of hard to miss the Soda City Farmers Market on Main Street, or the that list of must-eat-at-while-in-Columbia  restaurants just so happen to source most of their ingredients locally. And hearing about Columbia Food Tours tasting their way through said hot spots on those beautiful January days just solidifies the thirst for local food.

  What you might not have noticed though, is that the movement has touched more than the local consumer or the small farmer. Large farms, the USDA, schools, and many more entities are joining the conversation. Each looking to learn, incorporate techniques and assist in making foods more accessible.

  I attended the Agri Biz Expo in Florence and was amazed at what I saw. At first I saw the typical "Red Tape enforcer' government employee, the ginormous farmer that just wanted to make a buck and of course the salesman. Avoid eye contact at all costs I thought to myself or I would be thousands of dollars in debt in the matter of ten minutes. Non the less, I was hyped to be there.

  It didn't take long before my heart was warmed and there was change occurring in what I was seeing. I started to see the people. The government point person became this really knowledgeable lady that wholeheartedly wanted to help people navigate all the hoops that are in place. The amount of helpful information that she gave was like hitting a Vegas Jackpot. Then I saw that large farmer. That farmer happens to be from the midlands area. He was sitting in on a Soil Seminar that Dr. Kloot from USC was giving. With it being the year of the soil endorsed by the United Nation, it was refreshing to see that farmer learning a better way to tend to the soil. And as it turns out, that farm has put in place some amazing organic practices. Now we have the salesman, which didn't try to sell me anything. Not even an idea that their product was better than xyz. They just wanted to help solve problems that most farms run into at one point. Actually one even offered to help me with some writing contacts. Finally we have the schools. Dave Lamie of Clemson gave a fantastic workshop on Choosing Wholesale Markets for Local food Products. (I have some handouts if your interested.) And the Florence Extension is looking at building a Food HUB  among other projects. How awesome is that?

  I walked away from the expo being able to see the local food movement happening at the state level by local people. I'm so grateful to see the love these people have for our great state and local food.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Midlands Food Alliance

  Over the past few months I have been working with other local people who share the love of supporting our local farmers.
  We have come together and created The Midlands Food Alliance. The press release states our ideas. 

​"We don’t have a concrete map or understanding of the local food system. There are gaps and challenges that are not currently defined. We have people that care about local food, but we don’t have a network built or communication among the people that care about the local food system.

Local food supports our health, the local economy and local farmers, it tastes better, is resilient and sustainable, and independent from big corporate farming and the food industry. It provides food security for the region, which promotes homeland security and secures water for the future. Caring about local food will hopefully influence future generations to make better food choices and will connect children back to their roots. Local food is better for the environment, connects us back to our land, and will help preserve our beautiful S.C. wildlife and traditions, such as hunting and fishing. We want to work toward a fair, secure, sustainable, dependable, healthy local food system.

If we are going to support local food and learn how to improve the local food system, we need to map it out and understand it better. That way, we’ll know where our strengths and weaknesses are so that we work toward a healthier, more accessible local food system as a community. We need to raise awareness of the local food system and advocate and educate about the gaps and weaknesses we find in our local food system, so that we can make it better. Creating a network that cares about local food and opening communication is important. Connecting local farmers to each other and all aspects of the local food system is also important, as well as connecting local farmers to resources and information.

    We have an opportunity to learn about how to improve our local food system. Local food boosts the local economy, decreases the carbon footprint of food, is better for the environment, and connects back to the land, where we belong. The Midlands Food Alliance is coming together to map our food system. We are looking for members right now."

The Midlands Food Alliance

If you are interested, please get involved. 


Sustainable Midlands  (803) 381-8747


Monday, November 17, 2014

Navigating Disney

Wow! Finding real food in Disney has alway been the stick in my throat. The whole Dinning Plan thing burns me too. Trying to navigate through a week can be just a tad bit irritating to say the least. 
 This time I decided to let it go and just do the best I can. I mean after all it is vacation and your supposed to eat junk, play late and laugh a lot, right? 

 We got in yesterday, later in the day but in time for supper. We are staying at The Wilderness Lodge so we ate here. 

 I was truly suprised to see a pan seared quinoa cakes dish along with several other appatizing choices. Someone has obviously made an executive decision in the food department. I ultimately decided on a smorgasbord of meat that wasn't quite South Carolina BBQ, but still quite delicious. 

 Today we headed into Epcot for a special Princess lunch. Again, wonderful selections offered in the Norweigan eatery! Seriously!! I'm not sure what has happened that made Disney finally get with it, but I like! 

 Thanks for making some changes Disney! I can't wait to share what other goodies I find this week :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Food System

                I had the opportunity to attend The Midlands food Summit hosted by The Midlands Local Food Collaborative on Monday. When I got the invite I had no idea what the event was, or what it was really about. Nor did I have a clue as to what The Midlands Local Food Collaborative was or what they stood for. Needless to say I was just tickled to be included in something to do with the midlands food movement.
                After giving myself a bit of a pep-talk sitting in the car, I headed for the door of the Philips Center at the State Farmers Market. Once inside I quickly tried to find some familiar faces. Seeing a few made me more comfortable and I started to breathe a little bit easier. I found a seat and started to listen to the crowd around the table. I unknowingly sat with a group of Ag Teachers.
                About an hour or so into the meeting I had a pretty clear view of who this collection of people are. I was extremely grateful to be present. They are people that work, lead and motivate our actual food system. It was everyone from Non-Profit Food Hubs, The USDA (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Farmers, Lenders (agricultural lenders that help get grants and such), to the consumer. It was a large group of entities and individuals that care about making our food sustainable.
                I think I might have actually died and gone to Heaven for the few hours that I was there. Being able to learn about the challenges that our current farmers have was truly an eye opener for me. To realize that for our whole state, we only have two USDA certified slaughtering facilities gave me perspective on what our meat farmers are up against. For me to hear that our schools are not equipped to handle fresh food was another kicker. Are we not building kitchens in schools anymore? Or is it that there are so many regulations in regards to cooking real food, that the system just does not allow real food? I was learning all of this and more while we were brain storming ideas on how to solve such issues.
                And that is where the beauty of this whole meeting came together. When a hundred or so people put their minds together to bring positive change, is when change can actually happen. We all understand that in today’s society that what we eat will not be 100 percent local. But to strive towards a goal that will allow more people to actually have access and eat food produced in South Carolina, is a goal all South Carolinian's should be working towards. If we want to avoid major price hikes and not knowing where our food comes from, we might want to take a moment to think of how much food is needed for each person, each day. Then think about how much land is actually being used to raise said food. And then, Think about who will farm that, because as of now the average age of a farmer is 59 years old.
                My brain is still reeling from so much information, information such as the Food Safety Modification Act (FSMA) that was signed into law in back in 2011. ( )   It went into law but the FDA has yet to re-release its guidelines. Guidelines that when first released last year would have cause the organic farmer to be obsolete. Thankfully, the FDA is rewriting the guidelines, but they still expect that a number of small farms to be put out of business.

                Whatever the FDA decides is appropriate, we as consumers can make the difference for our state by buying from our local farms, and of course by being active in organizations that lead the way in managing our food rights. I mean, how silly would it be if we could no longer have a farmers market because of regulations?

Monday, June 23, 2014


                A friend told me she had wondered what I had been up to since we last spoke. She said “I headed to your blog and read the last few posts”. As I was reading her email, I realized it has been some time since I actually wrote something for my own blog. Opps. It is funny how easily one can forget to take care of their own “stuff” when they are taking care of others. Anyway, I figured I would take this nap time and bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on in my world.

                This family has been quite the road-running-group this summer. Mostly day trips but we have had a few over night ones as well. Yes, I know, summer just started, what can I say?

Our fist trip was actually before school was out. We headed to the mountains to show the kids what a mountain actually is. With Table Rock being so close we thought hey, why not? I mean after all I don’t think one can really describe the beauty of it in terms a 4 year old can fully grasp. Some things they just need to see for their selves to get the true impact of such a sight.  Jay and I have hiked Table Rock before so we knew it wasn’t something we could have our little tackle quite yet. We did however hit the base of it to show them the creeks and goof around. We also checked out the waterfall which was stunning although they didn’t think so. One day they will appreciate it, but just not yet.

Isle of Palms
                Next we had a fantastic beach day at The Isle of Palms. What a fun place that was! We parked in a county (at least I think it was county) park right at the beach. There were bathrooms (real bathrooms, not a port-a-john), changing rooms, a playground, grilling areas and even a small snack cart in case you needed a little treat. It really was the perfect spot for a family fun day!

                Then over Father’s Day we headed out for our first “camping” trip with the kids. I say “camping” with a grain of salt because although we had a fantastic time and the facilities turned out to be truly appropriate for a first outing, it wasn’t what we had thought it was going to be. We headed down to James Island. We thought we would save a few bucks and get the “primitive” campsite and really give the kids a true woodsy camping experience.
  Okay, Soo we got there kind of late, well late. It was after dark late. We checked in and headed to our spot. We parked, walked to the entrance trail and saw a giant football field. There were tents pretty much along the entire boarder of the field. We laughed at our “primitive” spot and carried on with our setup. As we were heading back to the car we noticed frogs everywhere. Not like one here or there, but like you had to really watch where you step or you would squish one. The kids really enjoyed playing Spot the Frog. The kids did great sleeping in the tent, even though we forfeited our dry run of camping in the back yard.
Folly Beach
 This county park was really geared towards families. They had a splash pad, bike trails, a water park and free access to Folly Beach. Folly beach was awesome. There was a channel that runs along the shoreline. When its high tide it fills and then it’s super suitable for small kids. I think we had more fun in the channel than the actual ocean waves.

                Let me just say that for each of these trips, we maybe spent one hundred and fifty dollars. The county and state park system is a true jewel on the wallet. Anyway, In addition to this I have had the pleasure of reading the book of John with some really great ladies, meeting a cool Bee Keeper in Sumter, eating some delicious BB-Que from different parts of the state and celebrating a sweet someone turning three.

                So there it is, well the highlights anyway. This type of schedule will continue on, my house will remain a mess, but we will be living life and enjoying all that South Carolina has to offer. May you find yourself in such a place! Happy Summer!!

Friday, May 2, 2014


  Yesterday morning I had made a promise to my son. Okay, I bribed him into going to school with an ice cream party. In order to make good on my promise, we needed supplies.

  We were pursing the grocery, the meat section to be percise, when my little jammed his pointer finger strait through the packaging and into the meat. Alrighty then. I tried not to laugh or get upset, but I was not indending on buying a roast for any reason. 

 Well, it did make it's way home with us and I was at a loss on what I should do with it. Just stumped.  We are out of most of my staple ingredients, which made it that much more difficult. 

 I finally just cubed it up and started throwing stuff in the pot.

This is the beauty that emerged.


Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary 
Fresh Garlic
Salt & Pepper
Can of Pre-seasoned Diced Toms
Chuck Roast

 I did only use half of the roast. I figured that it could at least help us stretch our dollar a bit further by being a Two-Fer item. You know, two-for-one? 

 I have been trying to use less meats in cooking lately. No particular reason other than trying to change up eating habits and spending more wisely. If we stay out of the rut, the kids seem to be more open to eating whatever we throw their way. And who doesn't want more for their money? I know I do.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Different Kind of Food

   Spring Break has come and gone. It seemed like it just flew by, leaving us with only a few eye-batting-what-was-that moments.maybe because this has been a busy spring break. So much so, that I cannot recall most of it. What I do recall is, finally getting soil and being convicted. Yes, convicted.

The surprise cost of 3 cubic yards of soil was much more than I had anticipated for our garden. So much so that I accepted that we wouldn't be able to fill our raised beds. After I had phoned a few distributors, I literally said to my hubs “not No, but h-e-double hockey sticks no”. There was no way I could justify the cost (right now). I even planted half of one of the bigger boxes thinking we would make do.
                Saturday morning came and the Hubs had been to drop the kids off with his parents. On the way back he stopped by a landscaping lot that we drive by every time we head to Manning. He did so just to see what they had to offer. They were such amazing people that they met us after hours so we could get some reasonably priced top soil. The cost was about $30 for our truck full. Blue Moon Landscaping has by far been the best customer service oriented facility I have seen in a long time. And they have great products.
                So the soil is in. The boxes are not completely full, but we figured hey, it’s a start and we are trying to be budget friendly here. We filled holes, seeded, put in a bed and literally worked all day. We got as much done as we could and went to get the kids back.
                We met his parents at his sister’s house in Pinewood, had a fun egg hunt and she invited me to one of her church’s events. It sounded like fun, so I was in. Little did I know what would take place at that event.
That Thursday I made my way back to Pinewood. Before I get started with this part, I want to say that I believe in God. However, I have never felt the need to know the Bible inside and out, or discuss really anything about it with others. I looked at it as a personal “thing”. With that said, let’s move forward.
                I get there, meet up with my sister in-law and we head to the church. It was quite lovely. The tables were all set with fine china and decorated in a manner that suited each person’s personality that sponsored the individual table. The men were the servers and sported a black tie. The food was catered and door prizes were handed out. The guest speaker was Dawndy Mercer Plank and what a speaker she is. As she spoke, I started to get that tight knot in my throat. You know the one that is paired with pursed lips? As I listened to her, it became very clear to me that it was no accident that I was present. Her words about being “F-I-N-E” described exactly how I’ve become, Frustrated-Insecure-Neurotic-Exhausted. I was so worried about fitting in, being accepted by the “right crowd” (whoever they are), focused on injustices and looking forward to what I want to do with my life that I was missing it. I was missing the life that was going on right in front of me and I got so exhausted trying to keep up.
                She gave several situations that were her own tests. But the one that struck me was, when she was given a specific verse to guide her. And that’s when I knew how important it really is to know Gods words.
                When the supper was over, I made the hour drive home and had plenty of time to think. To think about all the directions I've been pulled, about how easily my eyes have been shifted away from what IS important. How I have already wished away so many sweet moments. I was so moved that I pulled over in the Food Lion parking lot to write down a few things I was thinking. This is a bit of what I wrote that night in the parking lot.
                “Well, I’m pretty blown away with God’s Love. You see, I have been having a difficult time with a number of things lately. Being pulled so many directions, I have become all that she spoke of. Gods calling me back and tonight he was pretty direct. Giving me answers to the many, many questions I have been asking. He spoke to me as if I was the only one in the room, and I wanted to bawl like a child who has been busted telling a lie. Conviction is a beautiful thing, and it’s why I sit in this lot writing my story.”
                Receiving this message has given me the perspective that I really needed. I’m kinder to my children, more empathetic in rough situations and quite frankly, I am relieved to be able to stop trying to empress people.  I can breathe deep and know I am loved.