New Farmer’s Market Opens on Johns Island This Weekend

A farmer’s market with a strong emphasis on sustainability is set to debut on Johns Island this Saturday.

According to HomeGrown’s mission statement, “Only smart, safe farming practices are allowed here, we promise.” Market manager Frasier Block reports the market has thus far recruited 20 farmers and vendors. Participants include Compost in My Shoe; Spade & Clover Gardens; Sol Haven Farm; Botany Bay Sea Salt and Holy Smoke Smoked Olive Oil.

Conceived as a “one-stop-shop for everything on your shopping list,” HomeGrown is produced by A Snappy Event, the promotional outfit responsible for The Charleston Mac Off; Shamrockin’ Summerville and ‘80s Prom. Continue reading

A Local Sustainable Seafood Story That Predates Chefs Collaborative’s Charleston Visit By More Than a Century

David Heber Hammer's Photography

David Heber Hammer’s Photography

Chefs Collaborative, the nation’s leading network of sustainability-minded food professionals, is this weekend bringing its annual conference to Charleston for the first time. But the seafood topics on the National Summit agenda aren’t new to the city: In the 1880s, a local African-American retailer and amateur ichthyologist had already figured out how to “tempt guests with unfamiliar seafood,” a practice now considered a cornerstone of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Prior to the Civil War, Charleston’s fish market was in sad shape. According to food scholar David Shields, who generously shared the manuscript for his forthcoming Charleston culinary history, most shad were shipped north, and clams, shrimp, scallops and crabs were rarely offered for sale; Shields quotes a disappointed Duke of Saxe-Weimer-Eisenach as reporting in 1826 that “fish were not presented in so great a variety as I expected.”

Shields attributes the dearth of fish at market to northern control of the commercial smack fleet and a mosquito fleet which delivered its catch directly to plantations, whose overseers forbade slaves from sidelining in fish sales. But emancipation didn’t solve the problem of connecting local eaters with local seafood: So many men took up fishing for profit that fish populations were at risk of being wiped out. Continue reading

Slow Food Film Festival Returns

One of the “joys involved in tending the land” covered by Grow!, the first film on this year’s Slow Food Charleston Fall Film Series schedule, probably isn’t judging locavore picnics. But a few lucky area farmers will have the chance to choose the best “slowest picnic” in a contest preceding the Oct. 10 screening.

If you’d like your dinner assessed, bring enough food to share. Non-competitive eaters are also being urged to bring personal picnics to the 6:30 p.m. event at Dirthugger Farms.

Now in its third year, Slow Food’s film series strives to share stories about food and the people who produce it. In addition to Grow!, which focuses on young Georgia farmers, the lineup includes Eating Alabama, the tale of a young couple who encounter difficulties trying to eat the way their grandparents did; The Garden, a documentary about a Los Angeles urban farm and A Sea Change, an exploration of ocean acidification. Continue reading

LWV Hosts Discussion of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan’s fans spent the summer reading his latest release, Cooked, but the League of Women Voters’ local chapter is hoping they’ll again reach for his classic, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in preparation for an upcoming event.

The League on Oct. 17 is hosting a discussion of the book, which probes the political and philosophical dimensions of eating, following a tour of Grow Food Carolina at 990 Morrison Drive. Lisa Turansky, director of sustainable agriculture for the Coastal Conservation League, will lead the conversation.

The event begins at 6 p.m. There’s no charge for the tour or discussion, but dinner costs $12; Attendees can register and choose their wrap or salad on the League’s website.

What’s a Spring Fish Doing on a Fall Menu?

halibut2The fall menu at Circa 1886 is crammed with dishes that most diners would immediately recognize as autumnal – the entrée list includes duck breast with a mustard demi-glace, pork chop with Brussels sprouts and quail accompanied by rabbit sausage and pumpkin gnocchi – but the outlier of the bunch is halibut, which is generally recognized as a harbinger of spring.

In the Pacific Northwest, which this year has harvested nearly 19 million pounds of halibut, the opening of the commercial season is greeted with the same relief many Southerners feel when the first ramps blossom. Although the season runs for nine months, fishermen pining for a paycheck can catch 10-20 percent of the annual allowable catch in the season’s first few weeks.

This year, halibut season opened on Mar. 23; it closes on Nov. 7. Continue reading

Next SC Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Dinner Plays it Safe

ralph and jenny

ralph and jenny

The fish and shellfish on the menu for the next South Carolina Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Dinner are so common that many eaters might not even associate them with healthy oceans: Jonathan Banta of The Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island is serving Carolina trout, flounder, mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops.

While the upshot of Banta’s approachable five-course, Spanish-themed menu is it gently reminds consumers of which favorites pass muster with sustainable seafood advocates, it fails to take into account the diversification that now represents the forefront of responsible eating.

“The most important thing is diversity,” sustainable seafood champion and chef Rick Moonen this spring told the Las Vegas Weekly. “There’s millions upon millions of species of fish in the ocean. Edible protein—delicious. And we’re the top predators, so we just want a select few that we deem to be delicious. We just haven’t been exposed to the other species of fish that are absolutely very delicious. I don’t want to just cook salmon, tuna, bass. I’m done with that.” Continue reading