The options for buying local produce and products has grown tremendously in recent years. Buying local helps support the economy in your community. It puts dollars into local taxes, local supplies, and local families. Another popular trend is the concept of shopping at a Farmers Market, which has branched into small communities and even universities.
The University of South Carolina’s Farmers Market under the group, Healthy Carolina, hosts a market every Tuesday on campus, even in the summer. Here is more about USC’s Farmers Market.
The Certified South Carolina program is a cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) to brand and promote South Carolina produce and products.
The SCDA started the Certified South Carolina program in 2007. Farm producers, food manufacturers, specialty food producers, packing facilities and others in the production or manufacture of agricultural products in South Carolina are eligible to apply. In Horry County, there are 35 listed members and 13 listed roadside markets, and four community Farmers Markets. If you want to find a certified member or Farmer’s Market, visit the Certified South Carolina website.
Membership into the program is free and easy. The application is reviewed and approved by the SCDA Marketing Department and the only terms is that the product meets the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Quality Standards and then they can use the Certified South Carolina logos. The Certified South Carolina Grown logo signifies first quality products, grown in South Carolina that meet the U.S. No. 1 Quality Grade Standards, or higher U.S. Grade Standards, whichever is the accepted USDA industry grade standard for the commodity. Visit the USDA website for information about the USDA Quality Standards. Consumers can be assured that any commodity bearing the Certified South Carolina product logo is in accordance with USDA quality standards, made in South Carolina and supports the state’s economy.
However, this program also states on their website for the “Certified South Carolina Product” seal that: “Products that are eligible for inclusion in the program include agricultural products and food products that are manufactured or processed in the state that may or may not always include ingredients grown exclusively in South Carolina. This includes value added products, manufactured food products, and other agricultural products that may be further sorted, graded, blended, processed and packaged, in South Carolina.”
Yes, it sounds a little disheartening, but think about it a little more. Raw produce that are labeled as “Certified South Carolina Grown” from the Certified South Carolina program such as peaches, watermelons and corn probably do not fall under this disclaimer. However, other processed foods or mixed ingredients may. There is a list of members under the category “Specialty Food” and they have syrups, sauces and baked goods.
However, regardless of the ingredient disclaimer for the program, the bottom line is that these are South Carolina companies and our dollars still support a local state economy. Sometimes these are family businesses and farmers in our community, so when we buy their products we are ultimately helping to provide a livelihood for these businesses. I’d rather purchase apples, peaches and syrups with the Certified South Carolina logo, then buying these items from another state or another country. South Carolina needs support for its economy and the only way to survive is to buy local!
Visit Organic, Lost in Translation, to read my piece about the term “organic”.