Tasty prospects: Eating locally takes time, but is worth it | news


The word conjures up images of tree hugging hippies smoking weird-looking cigarettes lying on the floor hum “grazing in the grass,” or hybrid-driving ultra-libs going to yoga class.

The truth is closer and more practical: a locavore is simply a person who eats locally grown food whenever possible.

It’s a practice that includes visits to farmers’ markets, but goes further.

Meet the BreederTwo businesses that supply customers with locally grown food are Metz Organix and Parisi Farms. You belong to several producers who offer products at farmers markets and various companies.

Will and Holly Metts work on Metz Organix, which focuses on growing products “sustainably and regeneratively,” as Will says.

The farm is about 9 miles south of Greenwood on Chipley Road. It is a certified organic company. The goal is to use sustainable, regenerative farming methods, with a focus on taking care of the soil, Metts said. Products and meat are by-products of effort.

The farm is trying to be carbon positive, pulling it out of the atmosphere and storing it in the ground, he said. Most farms have a carbon deficit, which is why they use fertilizers.

Metz Organix uses some fertilizers, along with mulch and sacked leaves. As nature breaks down carbon, it provides a complete source of nutrients. It’s dyeable and regenerative in a nutshell, he said. It also uses some of its crops – like chives – as an attractant for beneficial insects to provide natural pest control.

A fresh market garden is 6 acres, but smaller lots are being used to allow for crop rotation, along with several greenhouses, he said. The farm also offers grazing chickens.

The creation of the farm began with tragedy. Metts said he was studying economics / finance at Lander University when his father was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He believes his cancer was due to agricultural chemicals and the consumption of processed foods.

With land available to the family, it seemed like a good way to provide clean, organic food to the community, he said.

His father helped him get things moving. Metts said he was a real nature lover. Two days before his death, he chopped bushes and trees.

“I haven’t looked back,” said Metts after nearly six years of farming. He said people told him similar stories about why they shop locally.

Michelle Parisi said her family came from Florida years ago and couldn’t find fresh groceries in the area. They decided to start growing their own in 2006, shared the products with friends, and the Abbeville County business grew from then on.

She said the farm easily has 200 customers in the summer. “We have been seeing the same customers for 10 years.”

The business has grown every year, with the exception of 2020 when sales fell due to COVID-19, Parisi said.

The growth is mainly due to word of mouth. Neighbors and friends and the community talk to each other.

“That helps us year after year,” she says.

Even when people talk, Parisi said it was surprising that some people have lived in Greenwood all their lives and know nothing about the farmers’ market.

The farm saw increased business with restaurants and nursing homes such as Montague’s Restaurant, the Village Grill in Abbeville, Grits & Groceries in Belton, and Wesley Commons, an assisted living home in Greenwood, she said.

Parisi Farms has appeared in other farmers’ markets, but the Greenwood market has the strongest support, she said.

What brings people backTomatoes attract people the most, ”said Parisi. In early September, tomatoes topped the tables with varieties ranging from slices and cherries to heirlooms like Cherokee Purple.

“They are picky plants, but they taste better,” she said of the tomato. One customer agreed when she raved about the variety. “Yeah, it’s hard to beat Cherokee Crimson,” said Parisi.

Taste is one of the reasons customers keep coming back. Parisi said she was told time and time again that people can taste the difference. You tell her the quality is something that she cannot find in large grocery stores.

It’s no surprise to them. Products in a large grocery store are grown to have a long shelf life, Parisi said. Grocery store foods are harvested several weeks before they hit the counter.

In comparison, Parisi Farms products are harvested either the evening before or the morning of the day they are offered for sale. Parisi said the farm was normally nothing more than a week old.

By that year, Metts said he’d grown a wide variety of produce, but it seemed like he was going to thin out. He looked at what other organic farms were growing in South Carolina and changed his minds by picking up organic produce from five farms within 80 miles of Greenwood to sell. Metts focuses on growing products that other farms do not offer.

Organix mainly offers cherry tomatoes and tomatoes for cutting, peppers, broccoli, spinach, okra and radishes.

Fall plantings began August 7-20 with the waxing and waning moon, he said. Each culture has its own diseases and pests to deal with.

“It’s like kids – how many can you handle, five or 30?” He said. “How many farmers do you need at a farmers market, all with the same thing?”

The Locavore community is small but stable. Greenwood County has about 70,000 residents, he said. Of these, 40-50 people actively look for local foods before going to a grocery store.

“I can probably introduce you all,” said Metts.

Together with the farm, the Mettses have a small shop on Edgefield Road, across from Self Regional Healthcare. He figured they made at least twice as much in the shop as they did in the farmers’ market.

Not everyone can only visit a farmers market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

Grow upWill’s work has led him into real estate development with his latest venture: he’s redeveloping a lot on Maxwell Avenue just a few doors down from The Mill House to be used as a grocery store. Metts expects to open the store in early October.

“This is my new full-time job.” Holly runs the original business on Edgefield Street across from Self Regional Healthcare. Part of their job is to fill the shop with flavors from recipes using locally grown produce. He estimates he works about two days a week on the farm, which has a full-time steward.

The advantage of the new location is the increased traffic. Metts estimated that he saw up to 1,000 vehicles drive past the store in an hour. It also has a lot more foot traffic than the Edgefield location.

There will be changes with the addition of the Maxwell Street Store. Metz said he wanted to make the Edgefield Street shop more of a “communal kitchen”.

An example is people who buy wholesale ingredients to make a product that they sell in the store. People can capitalize on their secret family recipes, Metz said. Retirees could use it as a hobby, or people who can’t afford to run a full business can use it to bring out a product.

It’s all part of a plan to grow the customer base. The farm has largely the same customer base for five to six years, he said.

“Most people want convenience – they want it now. It’s instant gratification. We’re all guilty, ”Metts said, admitting he went to The Mill House for dinner. “Our goal is to find ways to make local healthy foods convenient,” he said.

The more convenience you can provide, the bigger your customer base will be, he said, reiterating his lessons from his time at Lander.

Not everyone enjoys cooking, but they want clean, fresh, and healthy meals. Greenwood has no such stores, he said. “We want to close these gaps in the food system.”

Metts compared his plans to DoorDash, where people can get a box of groceries and recipes.

TimetablesParisi also noted the allure of the convenience and the harm it can do. Some people have never seen a fresh turnip and don’t know how to cook it.

She doesn’t mind teaching them.

“We have always learned from trial and error, so it’s easy to teach people,” she said. “It’s not as complex as people imagine. It takes a minute to tell someone how to cook something. “

“Their favorite part of the farm is offering good quality food,” she said. “It’s a very rewarding feeling.”

“Surprisingly, I would say that up to 70% of people choose the ‘weird’ foods,” she said. “I tell them about the flavors and how to cook and most people will try it out.”

People shouldn’t get stuck in a routine, she said. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Metts and Parisi criticized the use of processed foods and the use of chemicals in products and their effects on health.

“It’s a health problem,” said Parisi, who has been eating locally produced foods for 12 years. “I believe what you say as a child: ‘You are what you eat.’ Eating is health care. “

There’s a lot of ignorance going on about people who don’t know how many chemicals are sprayed on food that is then covered with wax, Parisi said. There are fumigants, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers and ethylene inhibitors – which slow ripening and result in a long shelf life – and the wax that keeps the inhibitors on the product.

“It’s scary to realize how much food is being sprayed,” she said.

Speaking of people’s arguments that local groceries are sometimes more expensive, Metts said, “You can pay for good, healthy food now and not have to pay health care bills later.”

Stretching food dollars is natural, he noted. “There’s a lot of education behind it. All people see are prices that have been injected into us. “

“Support good people who do good,” said Metts. “Our money doesn’t come from the state. I’m trying to keep it as close to Greenwood as possible. “

Go localFor those looking to switch to organic, Metts offers simple but practical advice: change one thing, one month at a time.

“You can’t do everything at once. That leads to burnout, ”said Metts. Get it right and he said, “Pretty soon, your whole life will change.”

“Don’t go on crazy diets or eating plans. Eat the right foods and the right servings and amazing things will happen, ”he said. “Everything leads to a lot of change.”

People should also ask questions. One of the problems with being a locavore is what “local” means.

“When you see ‘local’ groceries in a store, what does that mean?” Metts said there is no standard definition – one agency defines local as 500 miles while another defines it as 1,500 miles.

To himself, Metts said, “local” means 50 miles away. The furthest farm he buys products from is in Watsonia, about 40 miles from Greenwood.

When shopping, people should ask, “Where does your food come from?” And “Can I see it where it grows?” When they say “No,” Metts says they don’t want you to know anything.

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