Eating In Season

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When I was a kid, my mother would send me to the greengrocers for fruit and vegetables. It was almost all seasonal.

Except for bananas and oranges, just about everything came from the local farms, or at least within the county. and without celebration or fanfare either. No ‘locally grown’ or ‘organic’ labels back then.

This had a number of advantages. Produce was generally fresher. Everything was loose in any case, so you could pick out for yourself what you wanted.

It meant that you got fruit and vegetables at the peak of their ripeness, and probably at their most nutritious, save for picking them from your own garden.

It also mean that you got to look forward to certain items at certain times of the year.

I would look forward to new potatoes, to fresh peas, runner beans. I always looked forward to summer fruits. They were always a little more expensive than regular apples and oranges, but one certainly didn’t hand over a fistful of notes for a small carton of berries as one usually does in the supermarket these days.

TomatoTomatoes, and other salad items were a summer treat too. We simply didn’t have salad in the winter, as their were no perfectly red round and totally tasteless hothouse tomatoes back then.

Actually my parents had a small back yard, and my father would grow runner beans, and tomatoes, for which he would sent me to the local fields with a bucket to get manure. Still, that’s another story for another time…


3rd Annual Chef’s Potluck, Charleston, SC


SUNDAY May 2nd, 2010

At Middleton Place 4-7 p.m.
4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC

Will you be here for our Celebration of Local Food? Don’t miss out tickets are limited and moving quickly!

Here is a sampling of some of our great silent auction items for this year!
*4 Tickets to the First Flush Festival, with a picnic basket from the Glass Onion and a bottle of wine from Crushed Fine Wines!!
*Weekend at Folly Beach!
*Chef Consultation with Ken Immer (learn to eat for your health) valued at $300

The evening will feature food from some of Charleston’s top chefs preparing dishes using local ingredients from area farmers, and fishermen. Live music from Elise Testone and Friends, beer from COAST and Palmetto breweries, wine, ice cream , handmade chocolates, coffee, as well as a silent auction and new this year a farmer’s market tent!

Local Food Being Cooked Up By These Great Restaurants!

  • Alluette’s Cafe
  • Blossom
  • BBQ Joint
  • Clammer Dave’s Sustainable Seafood
  • Closed for Business
  • Coast Bar and Grill
  • Cru Café
  • Cypress
  • Duvall Event and Catering
  • Fish
  • Glass Onion
  • Maverick Southern Kitchens
  • Middleton Place
  • Taco Boy

Tickets for the event are $45 for LLF Members and $50 for non-members and include admission to Middleton grounds, all food, drink and entertainment. All proceeds support Lowcountry Local First’s Sustainable Agriculture Initiative and the Growing New Farmers Incubator Program. LLF strives to create a greater connection between those who grow and produce our food and the community they sustain.

Tickets available at Charleston Cooks! and the Glass Onion, and the Farmer’s Market (LLF tent)

READ about our Growing New Farmer’s Incubator Program in the Post and Courier and Charleston City Paper!

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors who make this event possible!

Processed Food

We at TGFC shy away from much processed food.

However, not all processed food is bad by any means.

After all, when we cook food at home, we’re processing it. When we make our own sauces, gravies, and dips we’re processing food.

Artichoke Relish

What we mean at TGFC, of course, is food that is highly processed, usually on an industrial scale. This kind of processed food often contains extra sodium to make it taste better; added colors to make it look better, and chemical preservatives to make it last longer.

While we don’t want everything to go bad in five minutes, if we prepare food as we need it, that’s not going to happen in any case. Of course, we can also prepare dishes in advance and refrigerate or freeze them. That way, we don’t need to add extra preservatives anyway!

Some good examples of home produced processed food:

  • Ketchup
  • Sausage
  • Salad Dressings
  • Pickles
  • Jams
  • Bread

Much can be made from locally sourced fresh produce too, often organic. Food that’s in season is often less expensive, and tastes better. You’re also helping the environment by not buying something that has been transported half way around the world, and you’re helping your own local economy at the same time!

From The Tap

Yes, at TGFC we’re more than happy to drink water from the tap. It’s much cheaper, and in most Western nations, it’s perfectly fine and safe to drink. It’s got up to 1,000 times less bacteria in than bottled water, and is around 1,000 times less expensive too.

However,we digress.

Down the hatch

Today, we’re talking about beer. If you like a glass or two of beer, then do yourself, and the environment, a favor, and ask for the tap.

Next time you’re in the supermarket, look in the beer aisle. Look at all that packaging! The beer is in those bottles and cans, which are in a cardboard box, or a tray wrapped in plastic.

Think about buying a keg instead, if they’re available. Of course not all beers are sold this way, particularly specialty beers and imports.

However, if you like good beer, see if you have somewhere like The Charleston Beer Exchange near you. They not only sell all those specialty bottles beers, often without much of the plastic wrap, and cardboard packaging, but they also sell beer on tap. Simply buy a glass jug, get it refilled with draft beer, and take it back for a refill when you’re done.

Sesame Burgers & Beer

You’re helping the environment, and you’re arguably helping yourself, in two ways. You’re drinking craft beer, which is much more likely to have less dubious colorants and additives in it, than mass-produced megabrew stuff, and you’re getting to try different beers, and a quality product. Quite often too, as is the case at The Charleston beer Exchange, you’re helping the local economy again if you drink the beers from the local brewery, such as The Charleston Beer Exchange offers from the Coast Brewing Company.

They believe in utilizing alternative means to brew unique beer. They also believe in choice organic and local ingredients. From their biodiesel fired kettle to their energy efficient process, they forge hand crafted batches in their 7 bbl brewhouse.

Think about it next time you’re going to buy some beer! You’ll probably get to enjoy a brew that you didn’t even know that you liked!

Food Choices In A Recession

Organic food tends to be more expensive than non-organic. That’s a fact.

So, if you need to save money, should you quit eating organic produce?

Not if at all possible.

Unfortunately, the most highly processed food, is often the cheapest, and is also most often the least nutritious too. So, although, you might be shaving a few dollars from the grocery bill, if you’re feeding your family junk food, you’re not doing them any favors, and you’re really simply wasting your money.

Cut back a little on portion sizes. Most of us eat too much in any case.

If you really cannot get or afford organic produce then buy non organic local produce at least. The fresher the better. Explore road-side stalls, and farmers markets.

Remember too, that supporting local farms helps support your own local economy. Also learn what is in season, and try to buy produce that is in season at the time of purchase. It is often cheaper, and often tastes better, as it’s more likely to be naturally grown, and not forced in a hothouse.

Some examples os seasonal foods: June is the best time for onions; July thru October for tomatoes, and October for sweet potatoes.

Supermarket – NO, Farmers Market – YES

Fruit & Vegetables

While many supermarkets are selling more and more fresh fruit and vegetables, and for many this is the only option, if you can, go to your local farmers market, or even some of the local roadside stalls.

They will have the freshest produce, much of which is locally harvested, often organically, and it’s quite often cheaper (and sometimes considerably cheaper) than the supermarket.

Remember too, that the farmers market will usually only have the produce that is in season right now locally – as it’s going to be at its best for taste and longevity once you get it home.

We have found that produce bought at the farmers market will stay fresh days longer than that bought at the supermarket, which is often the best part of two weeks old by the time you buy it in any case.