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Posted on: June 14, 2023

Library grant provides residents with "edible education"

A chef holds a knife while preparing a pineapple dish.

The “Edible Education: Food Literacy at the Library” series featured nine culinary and nutritional literacy demonstrations by food specialists of diverse backgrounds and heritages at the Georgetown County Library’s three rural facilities: the Andrews Library, Carvers Bay Library, and Southern Georgetown Library. Presentations, which took place in May, covered engaging topics, including African cuisine, Gullah foodways and tending vegetables in the Lowcountry. For those who missed the sessions, videos of two of the food demonstrations will be uploaded to the Georgetown County Library YouTube channel.

Presenters -- including local nutrition educators, master gardeners and professional chefs -- explained the history of their chosen dish and detailed the ingredients as well as the preparation process for the meal. They also brought samples of the dish to share with attendees. Demonstrations provided residents in the Andrews, Carvers Bay and Southern Georgetown communities with the opportunity of learning how to select and prepare economical, nutritious nourishment. Learning about healthier food preparation will enable community members to avoid such serious risks as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, anemia, and foodborne illness. 

Sherry Livingston, Georgetown County Senior 4-H Youth Development Agent with Clemson University Cooperative Extension, kicked off the series with an enthusiastic presentation at the Andrews Library in the rural western portion of Georgetown County. Livingston discussed ways to maintain a healthy and balanced weekly diet and then showed participants how to prepare a quick and delicious stir fry dish that integrated a “rainbow” of local vegetables, including carrots, squash, zucchini, peppers and broccoli. Also at the Andrews Library, Master Gardener Tim Chatman, along with his partner Denise Chatman, provided insight on how to cultivate a home vegetable garden. They gave detailed advice on what plants are most likely to thrive in our area’s particular growing conditions. Tim brought cabbages, collards and onions from his garden, and Denise demonstrated how to cook these together into a healthy, tasty dish. Chef Donnie Greene of Donnie’s Grill in Bucksport brought the presentations at Andrews to a fine conclusion. Greene, who was born and bred in Georgetown County, prepared a Caribbean-inspired meal for attendees, taking them step-by-step through the process of creating grilled pineapple bowls stuffed with yellow rice, shrimp or salmon, carrots, squash, zucchini, and red peppers, and topped with orange sauce. 

Giany Guedjo, Executive Director of Carolina Human Reinvestment and founder of the Pawleys Island Community Garden, continued the series’ momentum at the Carvers Bay Library, located in the sparsely populated northwestern section of Georgetown County. Originally from Benin, Guedjo prepared a meal popular in his homeland that shares affinities with the Gullah cuisine characteristic of our area, creating an amazing dish with cabbage, collards, tomatoes, peppers, chicken and shrimp in a way participants found familiar yet new. As a Type 2 diabetes sufferer, Guedjo provided tips on how to avoid sugary foods, including using quinoa as a substitute. Chase Baillie, Food Systems and Safety Agent with Clemson University Cooperative Extension, gave an informative presentation about the basics of kitchen safety and best practices of food handling for our Carvers Bay Library community. Attendees learned several important food literacy points, such as using a food thermometer to test if meat is properly cooked, thawing meats in the refrigerator, and not washing raw chicken. Monte Britton, a Georgetown native who is chef at Morning Time in Dunbar, illustrated for our Carvers Bay Library community members how a balanced breakfast should be an essential part of a healthy start to every day. Noting that he has family members who are vegan, Britton offered healthy vegetarian alternatives to the typical breakfast fare of eggs, bacon, and sausage. Having learned the ropes of cooking at a young age from his mother, Britton said he believes cooking should be “inspirational and soothing.”  

Chef Altor Smith, a Georgetown County native who works for the Daniel Island Club, provided the initial “Edible Education” presentation at the Southern Georgetown Library, which serves the rural Sampit and Santee communities. Using locally sourced ingredients, Smith illustrated how to make sushi. Since almost none of the attendees had ever tried sushi before, this demonstration truly broadened the horizons of food literacy for participants, who were eager to try out creating the dish for themselves. Chef Savion Lee, another Georgetown County native and owner of Chef Black Boy Catering, led the next session at the Southern Georgetown Library. Lee gave attendees tips on safely preparing food, including proper kitchen knife use, as he illustrated how to prepare a fresh, healthy chicken and vegetable salsa with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, corn and lime. Mary Morgan Casselman, Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program Educator with Clemson University Cooperative Extension, provided the grand finale for our “Edible Education: Food Literacy at the Library” series at Southern Georgetown. Casselman demonstrated four principles of food preparation safety (clean, separate, chill, cook) and then showed participants how to make a simple but nutritious and filling vegetable salsa dish. She helped participants retain knowledge gained during the session by playing a fun game of food literacy bingo at the end.  

Library Branch Managers Hailey Davis (Andrews Library), Marilynn Robb (Carvers Bay Library), and Sharea Drayton (Southern Georgetown Library) did an excellent job spreading the word to patrons and community members and facilitating the programs in all details. 

The “Edible Education” series was generously supported by funding from the South Carolina State Library and is part of a wider food literacy grant project under the direction of GCL Assistant Director Trudy Bazemore. The other significant facets of the project include ordering diverse culinary and nutritional literacy books for the three GCL rural facilities’ circulating collections; purchasing state-of-the-art kitchen equipment to be housed at each of the three GCL rural branches for future programming; and providing food safety and preparation training programs for library staff.  

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