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Help local economy, buy Lowcountry produce

The March 4 Wellness Wednesday, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Children’s Hospital lobby, will feature National Nutrition Month. Learn which local fruits and vegetables are in season. Also featured will be healthy recipes using some of the produce available at the Farmer's Market.

by Kelsey Grobbel
Dietetic Intern
Buying produce and meats from the local farmers’ market presents a myriad of benefits: knowing the food source; providing a break from the grocery store grind; supporting the local economy and community; and helping to sustain the environment.
Convenient to MUSC family and friends, the farmers’ market on the Horseshoe also provides an excellent place to socialize, learn about new foods and even enjoy some entertainment on occasion.
Buying produce at the market has the following benefits:
  • A fresh food experience. Consumers benefit by getting the freshest foods possible since they are picked at the peak of ripeness and get transferred directly from the farm to the market.
  • Interaction with the producers. The vegetables are not coming from a foreign country like Chile. The meat is not shipped from a packing plant in Kansas. At the farmers’ market, you have the opportunity to meet the person growing your food. They can answer questions regarding what type of farming techniques are being used, and what production and what animal practices are in place.
  • Saving money. Since food sold at the farmers’ market is local, the transportation costs associated with commercial or imported foods are not added to the price. You also save money by eating foods in season. The climate and growing conditions dictate the type and time of produce grown locally, so you will avoid produce that needs special growing accommodations and, therefore, skip the increased costs.
  • Supporting the local economy. Consumers aren’t the only ones who benefit from these markets. Farmers benefit by making a larger profit, since they don’t have to ship their produce through a wholesaler and compete with big commercial farms for supermarket merchandising. The local economy also profits when money goes back to hometown farmers.
  • Supporting the local environment. The environment benefits, because the produce isn’t being shipped across the world requiring large fuel consumption. Local, smaller producers generally tend to adhere to sustainable farming practices, using fewer toxic pesticides, herbicides and processes. This allows for greater flexibility such as unique crop and herd rotations and field diversification that are environmentally preferable.
Besides the technical, economical and economical reasons to support the local farmers’ market, check out one and have some fun. You could:
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable. Produce in season within the Southeast region includes asparagus, beets, strawberries, broccoli, turnips and zucchini.
  • Ask the vendor his favorite way to prepare a particular type of produce. Many have recipes to share.
  • Check for special events being planned at the farmers’ market. Many have cooking demonstrations, tastings and activities for children, too.
  • Teach children about buying fresh food. Give your children each $2, and let them explore the market and how far that money can go while experiencing the beauty and uniqueness of fresh produce. This may also help them develop an appreciation for better eating habits through ownership in the selection process.
Local markets include: the Charleston Farmers Market (at corner of Calhoun and King streets) open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning April 11. The MUSC Farmers Market is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Friday in the Horseshoe,.

Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.