Slow Food Columbia is one of 200+ Slow Food USA chapters, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Our mission is to support the movement behind GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR foodways in the Midlands and beyond. Our convivium hosts workshops, potlucks and other events throughout the year to celebrate local + seasonal flavors; to showcase the culinary talents of our region's chefs, farmers, + artisan producers; to strengthen connections between members of our local food community; and to educate the public about the importance of knowing where your food comes from.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Tradition of Togetherness

The Tradition of Togetherness

December 26, 2014

By Ariel McClain, owner The Humble Farm

Greetings fellow slow foodies, in the midst of the holiday bustle, the planning, shopping, celebrating the advents of the season with our family and friends let us muse in the joy of good tidings and cheers with gratuity for the tradition of togetherness. As we gather here and there, these, the easiest of days to express gratuity for our community producers, our work partners, our near and dear friends, neighbors, both close and distant relations; let us give thanks with our appreciation and support, let's pay it forward where we can.

Against the grain of the 'December Dilemma' with values availed centered around and about consumption, there are ethical options and locavore choices to consider. The choice to decide what we consume, where we spend our dollars and how to integrate a meaningful intention with each purchase or gesture is made easy while entertaining the wares of our local purveyors. This year I happened upon the consumer conscience alleviation while perusing a locals market of craftsman, producers and merchants, not lacking of exemplary slow foodesque exchanges of  local goodies to indulge in and gift  to. Also, not lacking in expressive holiday greetings, warm hugs with generous smiles and heart warming feelings, engaged with sincere, virtuous producers and local wares sellers, market makers and goers together in tradition.  I cannot help to take notice of the additional assuage each exchange with a local producer or crafter imbibes. 

Amidst the shopping sprees, culinary expeditions, the gatherings, the intoxication of sweet home baked treats and feasts there is inherently togetherness, heritage, goodwill, a holiday season with a legacy of humanity. This holiday motor hums of holiday bells and jingle,  as well as, sighs of content from full hearts and bellies. Past the enchanted spell of the holiday festivities, fast approaching a new year of promise and progress may we recall the brightening of fellowship, fine foods and the traditions of  togetherness we can look forward to again in all our days of the coming year.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

People Like to Talk about Local Food....They also like Happy Hour

The COPASCities program at USC in conjunction with the Midlands Local Food Collaborative surveyed 77 food producing farmers throughout the Midlands between August 2013-July 2014.  The main purposes of the survey were to: identify barriers farmers face in producing and selling food for human consumption; the level of demand for locally farmed foods; and the potential need for a food hub in the region. The findings of the survey tell us that farmers see access to capital, processing regulations, the need for skilled labor, the labor pay scale, and food safety certifications as the top obstacles to farming in the Midlands. 

Quotes from farmers throughout the Midlands who were surveyed are below. Hope these snippets help us understand the perspectives of Midlands food-producing farmers. 

"The demand for Local/Real food is overwhelming. We have customers from other towns that come to buy from us because they may not be near a 'healthy' grocery store, etc. that has food that they feel good about feeding to their families. The demand is here."

"Competition for everything comes in at once when it comes to produce; I'm always competing with other farmers."

"People like to talk about local food, but they also like happy hour. People here aren't going to put a dent in their happy hour money to be able to buy food locally."

"There needs to be a legislative mandate that makes some entities buy local. We don't need to be selling California produce in stores during times when local growers are/can grow the same things."

"We need to secure natural laws, grandfather in that every human has the right to produce/grow/sell their food and eat it themselves. No one's regulating what squirrels eat, and they're just fine."

"The days of subsidies helping farmers are few and far between. And we don't want more loans. Clarity with the Farm Bill and what it means and clearing up the programs would be useful."

"Having to have the right facilities to process....I would really like to process greens. There really is no place for me to process them. I'd have to go all of the way to Hilton Head from Orangeburg."

"Regulation: I'm on FDA's target list because what I produce is full of bacteria (good bacteria--but sometimes bad bacteria can get in). Grocery stores are starting to not carry my product and products like mine for liability reasons."

"Knowing what can/can't do in terms of growing, zoning laws, etc. It's difficult to navigate different levels of government's laws, rules, and regulations."

"Transportation is a HUGE issue for me...How do we create efficiencies with delivery and distribution?"

"A month and a half ago I attended a conference in Greenville and was discouraged because I was surrounded by small farmers, and I'm not a small farmer. I didn't like the tones of these small guys talking about the ‘big growers’."

"I'm old and may not farm for much longer. I used to sell to Piggly Wiggly 20 years ago, but now they’re going away and big grocery stores have laws and can't buy from the little guys as easily anymore because of all of the laws now."

"Small farmers are dying out. Where are our new farmers? You have to have a whole lot of money to start a farm. And all the good land is disappearing."

"We used to make and sell jams and jellies but now you have to do that in a commercial kitchen and regulations are strict so we don't do it anymore."

"My biggest problem is processing- the plant is 3 hours away and it is very costly."

"Farming inputs cost more now due to the price of petroleum and competition from China and other countries are using more technical ag supplies like fertilizer which makes it harder to compete."

"Would love to have products in ‘bricks and mortar’ so that we don't have to physically sell it ourselves. We could focus on the farm."

"I can't sell to Bi-Lo because I don't have enough liability insurance. So food hubs sound good. I'm not lacking markets though--If I grow it, I can sell it! Children also need to learn where food comes from. And people need to learn about farming so they stop being nit picky and wanting to shut down big ag. At the same time I don't believe in big farms raking in tax incentives and subsidies."

"If you have a passion or an idea to produce a product it's just such a daunting task to figure out what's needed to be "legal" to sell to the general public."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slideluck Potshow, Columbia

Hey Slow Foodies! Allow us to introduce you to Slideluck (if you haven't already heard), a groovy photography show and potluck event making its way around the country. And yes, it's coming to Columbia. 

What is Slideluck, you ask? Slideluck is an international community of people coming together in the name of good food, good art, and bringing people together in celebration of these things. For the fitting occasion of USC's 6th Annual Photography Festival, the love is coming to Columbia, SC. A Slideluck event will take place at Tapp's Art Center on December 5th from 7pm to 10pm, and you are invited to partake.

How can you be a part of this super cool event? Bring a dish to share! It's that simple.  

More details can be found on the USC 6th Annual Photography Festival's Facebook event page.

Check it out, be there, and build community in the name of art and food! 


Your Slow Food Columbia Team

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Agri + Culture: Doc Film Shines a Light on Midlands Farm-to-Table Scene

Featuring many of the prime movers of the Midlands farm to table food scene, this new short documentary film directed by Amy Overstreet, produced by Buz Kloot and written/hosted by Erin Eisele is exciting to watch.

How many farmers, chefs and advocates do you recognize in the film? Give them a shout-out and share this with your social networks, won't you?

Agri + Culture: Following food from farm to fork in South Carolina from SC-NRCS & ESRI-SC Partnership on Vimeo.

"This project was created through an outreach agreement between SC USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of SC-Earth Sciences and Resources Institute. For a DVD copy, or for questions/comments, contact Amy Overstreet, or (803) 765-5402."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slow Food at Indie Grits tickets on sale now!

It's on! Sunday, April 13, 2014, do join us for a fun, relaxed soiree to celebrate the Midlands' great sustainable chef community:

Design by Jen Ray

Slow Food at Indie Grits sustainable chefs showcase
Date + Time: Sunday, April 13th, 2014, 3pm-6pm
Location: Market Building at 711 Whaley (next to 701 Whaley)
Host: Slow Food Columbia and the Indie Grits Festival
Tickets: $20 general; $15 Slow Food and Nickelodeon members; $10 potluck bringers

Slow Food Columbia and the Indie Grits Festival are partnering again to present the popular Slow Food at Indie Grits “Sustainable Chefs Showcase,” potluck and party on Sunday, April 13th, from 3-6pm at 711 Whaley in Columbia, South Carolina. While tickets will go on sale March 1, festival passes are available now at

Guests will enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres by the Midlands’ most sustainable chefs, in a casual setting with lively tunes by the Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul and a cash bar by The Whig featuring South Carolina-brewed beers and carefully selected wines by AdVintage.

2014 Sustainable Chefs:

Chef Mike Davis, owner, Terra
Chef Wesley Fulmer, Motor Supply Company Bistro
Chef Travis Rayle, Rosso Trattoria
Chef Gordon Langston, Bourbon
Chef Benoit St. Jacques, Rosewood Market and Deli
Chef Alex Suaudom du Monde, owner, Baan Sawan Thai Bistro
Chef Blake Faries, Saluda's
Chef Jessica Shillato, owner, Spotted Salamander Catering
Chef Howard Stephens, The Oak Table 
Chef Milo Klos, Charleston Cooks!
Chef Brandon Reese, Whole Foods Market
Chef Asa Collier, Jake's
Chef Bryan Tayara, Our Local Catch
Chef Branson Stafford, Tombo Grille
Chef Sharon Wright, owner, Good Life Café
Chef Scott Hall, owner, Scott Hall Catering

Each chef’s dish must feature at least one locally, sustainably produced major ingredient.

For a lower-priced ticket, guests are invited to bring a potluck dish to contribute. At this ticket level, guests should bring roughly 20 small portions of a dish made with at least one sustainable, local ingredient. Join us!

Image: Jonathan Sharpe

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Midlands Farm Tour in Columbia, SC

Saturday and Sunday April 5-6, 2014, 1-5 pm
The second annual Midlands Farm Tour, happening Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, 2014 from 1:00-5:00 PM both days, will feature 10 local, sustainable farms. This self-guided tour features working farms and gardens in Richland, Lexington, and Kershaw counties and taps into the Midland’s growing passion for local food and farming.

Midlands Farm Tour 2013 photo
Midlands Farm Tour 2013
Some of the unique things to see and do on the tour:
  • See lots of cute baby farm animals, including baby chicks, pigs and goats
  • Learn gardening and growing techniques such as Square Foot Gardening, Permaculture, Hydroponics, and Raised Vegetable Beds
  • Check out how they grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, mushrooms and more without harmful pesticides
  • Learn more about what it really means to “eat like a pig’ and why farm animals love pasture
  • Enjoy a farm-fresh picnic or snack with food and treats sold at the farms
  • Teach your children where their food comes from, play fun farm games, and more!

“So many children have read story books about farms and farm animals, but have never actually seen a farm. By touring, children learn where their food comes from and what a real farm is,” said Roland McReynolds, CFSA Executive Director. “It’s a great way to see how food is produced on sustainable small farms and support the local farmer who grows it!”

Tour tickets, good for both days, are $25 per vehicle in advance. Tickets are available for purchase during the tour for $30 or you can also choose to pay $10 per farm (available for purchase at all of the farms during the tour). Groups of cycles count as one vehicle. Tickets can be purchased online now at at Whole Foods Market and City Roots in Columbia closer to the event date.
The tour is self-guided. Choose the farms you want to visit on the interactive map or downloadable brochure at to plan your tour. Visit any farm in any order. And, don’t forget to take a cooler so that you can bring home some of the farm fresh products for sale at many farms! No pets allowed. The tour is rain or shine. Proceeds from the tour support the work of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
The 10 farms and gardens on the tour, all within a about a 40-mile drive from Columbia, are:
  • City Roots, Columbia
  • University of SC Farm & Garden, Columbia
  • NOMA Community Garden, Columbia
  • Terra Kotta Farms, Leesville
  • Humble Farm, Gilbert – NEW!
  • Doko Farms, Blythewood
  • Crooked Cedar Farm, Blythewood
  • Paradise Acres Farm, Elgin
  • Wil-Moore Farms, Lugoff
  • Carolina Bay Farms, Hopkins


We hope to see lots of you on the spring tour. And don’t forget that we need lots of on-farm volunteers. Volunteering on a farm is a great way to support the cause!


Vanessa Driscoll – CFSA’s Midlands Farm Tour Coordinator, (919) 542-2402

Proudly presented by: CFSA
Proudly sponsored by: Whole Foods Market