There's no reason not to dine like southern royalty this holiday season. So instead of a trip to the supermarket, why not drive just a little bit farther into the country around Charleston for a cornucopia of fresh veggies, fruits, and other culinary goodies? The fertile soil found on Johns Island, Wadmalaw Island, and the rest of the lowcountry yields outrageously delicious and consistent produce, and recently, locals have discovered how easy it is to obtain the good stuff. If you want to ensure this year's Thanksgiving meal will be one to remember, it's as simple as sourcing your meat and veggies. Here are RootsRated's tips on how to score the best ingredients around Charleston.
1. Do Your Shopping at the Farm
Sourcing local, organically grown fruits and vegetables in Charleston is easy. Take a drive out to Johns Island, stop at the first farm you see, and have a field day trying to choose between all of the different options in front of you. The majority of small farms outside the city limits practices sustainable growing methods. In other words, once the seed is sewn, the farmer leaves it alone until it's time to harvest. It is the way food was meant to be grown. Some of our favorite farms, including Lowland Farms, Sea Island Savory Herbs, Ambrose Farm, and Joseph Fields Farm are located a mere 30 minutes from downtown, and they're always very welcoming.
2. GrowFood Carolina
GrowFood Carolina works to distribute locally grown Charleston produce to a large portion of the state. The organization serves as a middleman to the farmers, buying crops off the farmer's truck and making sure the crops reach the consumer. GrowFood distributes produce to a long list of vendors, and odds are you won't have to travel far to get your hands on the goods -- check the organization's website for a full list of distribution areas.
3. Local Farmer's Markets
Simply put, for farm-grown, organic produce, visit a farmer's market. The Marion Square market, which runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the largest and offers the most variety, but the Mount Pleasant market and Sunday Brunch Market (James Island) are worth checking out as well. Farmer's markets offer a long list of ingredients well beyond those of typical grocery stores, making the options for an incredible Thanksgiving meal endless.
4. Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, has been around for ages, but only recently has it become more mainstream. For farm-fresh veggies not only during the holidays but year round, simply sign up for a CSA basket with your favorite farm. Typically, farms offer small- and large-basket options, with prices from $100-$500 per season, for weekly drop-offs for the duration of the CSA season (around 12 weeks). It's important to do your homework when choosing a CSA. Be sure to look at prices, what the farm plans on growing each season, and where its drop-off points are -- then fire up the kitchen and create a masterpiece of a meal.