There is no doubt that the Southern food culture has been in the spotlight in the recent years. In addition to the reinvention of the cuisine, there is a growing interest in discovering and preserving family recipes. With more Southerners wanting to explore bringing their grandmother’s peach jam on the market, where do these foodpreneurs go to get guidance on the basic steps to get it on a store shelf legally and safely?
In South Carolina, The Food2Market Program can help guide you.
Offered through the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, the Food2Market program launched three years ago by Kimberly Baker, a food safety agent, to guide food entrepreneurs in the appropriate steps needed to begin the production of a food product. Adair Hoover, a food safety agent who joined the program in 2014, says the guidance often involves correspondence, via email or conversation, with hundreds of entrepreneurs a year on food safety and regulation requirements needed to get their products to market. Its location in Columbia, South Carolina, can provide various product testing required for some commercial products.
A two-day workshop for new food-based entrepreneurs is also a program they try to offer each year. For about $200, a “tremendous amount” of food safety and regulation information is covered, while having the opportunity to talk in-person to Clemson University Food Science professors, and regulators from South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Environmental Control. Of course, getting to taste the food is part of the workshop. “An especially fun part of the workshop is an afternoon networking event where we offer cocktails and appetizers, and the entrepreneurs are encouraged to share their food products with the group,” says Hoover.
The Food2Market program is trying to keep up with an ever-increasing demand, but Hoover really sees the program’s services as one way of preserving the Southern food heritage. “By assisting South Carolina food-based businesses, we are helping to spread our uncommonly good SC foods!,” Hoover says.