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At the table: Palmettovore

By Sarah L. Smith
Coastal Observer

In the animal kingdom there are carnivores, herbivores, omnivores and even insectivores.

But in South Carolina, there is a special type of mammal: palmettovores.

Unlike meat-eating carnivores and plant-eating herbivores, palmettovores do not eat palmettos. Instead, they only eat food grown in South Carolina.

So folks can get blueberries from McClellanville, watermelon from Andrews, seafood from Georgetown or Murrells Inlet, beef and poultry from Aiken, turkey, pork, chicken and goat meat from Anderson, and USDA certified organic sweet potatoes from Cheraw.

But in Georgetown County, future palmettovores don’t have to go that far to find products made or grown in the state. Farmers provide vegetables, seasonings, meats and other local products at farmers markets and roadside stands. Produce and specialty products are also available in local shops and grocery stores.

While some product labels indicate that they are from South Carolina, “Certified SC” products – items with a round white label with red lettering – are products the state Department of Agriculture approved to let consumers know they are genuine South Carolina items.

Each certified product also must meet federal quality standards. Processed, cooked or manufactured items must be produced and packaged in accordance with industry standards.

Ed Jayroe of Andrews sells his produce at “Certified SC” farmers markets in Georgetown and Pawleys Island. To get certified his crops were inspected by the state Department of Agriculture.

For Jayroe, the “SC Certified” label makes a difference.

“A lot of people want to know if it’s local,” he said. “They’ll ask you. I always tell them where it’s from. Sometimes I lose some customers for being honest.”

If they find out the food comes from somewhere else in the state, Jayroe has customers who won’t buy it.

In that case, they usually end up buying his home-grown squash, cucumbers, field peas, butter beans, string beans, cantaloupe, blackberries and watermelon. In another year, he’ll also sell muscadine grapes.

Eating local or state foods isn’t hard if people look around, Jayroe said.

On Waccamaw Neck, folks can find local and state produce and food products in grocery stores, at the Georgetown and Parkersville farmers markets, Lee’s Farmers Market, the Krazy Krab and King’s.

Some products may come from out of state, so farmers like Jayroe warn customers to always ask.

Ginny Callum, owner of the Krazy Krab, said people ask her where her produce and seafood comes from all the time. She gets her food from Horry and Georgetown counties, and from Georgia.

One of her customers, Margie Brown, a part-time Pawleys Island resident, said she tries to get local food everywhere she goes.

She quizzed Collum about her tomatoes and shrimp, and made sure she sampled the South Carolina and Georgia tomatoes to see if they tasted “real.”

“I do taste my tomatoes before I buy them anymore,” Brown said. “I’m too old now. I can’t be fooled.”

Brown bought the South Carolina tomatoes.

At King’s roadside stand near the Pawleys Island Post Office, cars line up to buy boiled peanuts, watermelons, tomatoes, and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

People always ask where his produce came from, said owner Ryan King.

And customers said they come to King’s because it’s local and fresh.

Kim Conder, a Pawleys Island resident, said she always gets her okra and butter beans from King’s. The okra she’s seen in stores is brown, Conder said.

Bea Wragg, another Pawleys Island area resident, comes to King’s for the local and fresh vegetables.

King said sales are always good, but he wouldn’t say his sales are better than in 2008.

“We’re not hurting, but we’re not doing the best we’ve ever done,” he said. “Prices have been going higher and higher so it’s harder to make a profit.”

He also has competition at the county’s farmers market in Parkersville every Wednesday.

One farmer at the market, Cindy Fortner, said she sold more than 40 gallons of blueberries in the first three hours at Parkersville.

By the end of July, King will have more competition from Lachicotte’s Fresh Market.

Chip Lachicotte doesn’t have a firm date for the opening of the market on Waverly Road since the building is still under construction.

However, when he does open, he’ll sell local produce, meats, cheeses and spices.

The 650-square-foot building has high ceilings, windows to keep open during cooler seasons, and a 210-foot long covered porch.

Lachicotte said he plans to add seating on the porch, along with foods that will stay fresh outside during the day.

“I think Pawleys is ready to step into something different than roadside stands and grocery stores,” he said.

He said the store will focus on produce initially. Then, he’ll add more products.

“Anything that goes along with food and cooking and whatnot, I plan to carry,” he said.

For more information on S.C. Certified foods and markets, or being a palmettovvore, go to agriculture.sc.gov.

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