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His plate is home grown

The Grass is Greener

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POSTED: July 3, 2014 12:00 p.m.

I can and have assailed you with facts and figures on the economic importance of agriculture to this state, and I probably will again.
Today I want to explain how important our commercial agricultural producers are in a different way.
Over half of all the people who live in Georgia were not born in Georgia.
There is a lot to like about this state and it has induced many people to relocate here.
Anyone who has heard me speak knows by my accent I did not have the Grace to be born in Georgia, but I did have sense enough to move here when the opportunity presented itself 30 years ago.
 It is obvious to anyone who has met me that I am well fed. My wife’s cooking has a lot to do with that.
The late comedian Sam Kinison advised that we could end world hunger if we would just stop sending food to starving people and send them U-hauls and boxes and tell them to leave the desert and move to where the food is. I would have to raise my hand. I have definitely moved to where the food is.
Let me take you on a culinary tour of the food produced commercially right here in Georgia from products grown right here in Georgia.
For breakfast we have bacon and ham from Georgia hogs and eggs laid by Georgia hens. Corn muffins from Georgia corn fields topped with Georgia butter and Georgia sorghum syrup or Georgia honey, your choice.  
Pancakes made with Georgia flour topped with Georgia blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.  Grits, of course, and a tall glass of cold milk from Georgia dairies is there to wash it down.
For lunch we grow the lettuce, tomato, zucchini, yellow squash and onions, green onions, bell pepper, broccoli, cucumber and spinach for your salad.
A small salad please, one that won’t get in the way of the pulled pork barbecue or beef ribs.
Or maybe a Georgia beef hamburger with Georgia cheese on a Georgia bakery bun with a side of coleslaw made from Georgia cabbage. Or how about some farm-raised Georgia catfish with some more of those grits.
One of my all-time any-time favorite meals is the low country boil.
 Here in Georgia we have the star of the repast, Georgia wild shrimp. Georgia grown red potatoes, Vidalia onions, Georgia sausage, Vidalia carrots, and sweet corn keep the shrimp from getting lonely.
To really keep Georgia wild shrimp company you need some Georgia oysters. Not as big as the Apalachicola cousins, but tastier.
 For dinner there are many choices. It could be pork or beef or chicken. It can be barbecued, baked, fried or deep fried and it’s all good.
We do have the chicken. If Georgia was a separate nation — now calm down, I’m not talking secession, I’m talking chicken—– we would be the seventh largest producer of poultry products in the world.
And to fry up some bodacious vittles there is cooking oil from soybean, peanuts and corn.
Being coastal, like Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump we got your shrimp. On top of that , we also got your greens.
“You got your collard greens, you got your mustard greens, you got your spinach greens, you got your turnip greens, you even got your kale greens. Yes suh, we has got all the greens you could want. Cooked slow in that ham and pork fat, why your tongue will slap your teeth plumb outta your head to get to ‘em.”
Fried Georgia okra dressed for dinner in corn meal. That’s Georgia formal attire.
For dessert there is pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, sweet potato pie or sweet potato casserole with Georgia pecans in a sweet crunchy crust over the top. We also have cantaloupe, peaches and watermelon to go along with the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Peanuts and pecans fill up the corners, or if we are especially good to the cook, a pecan pie could make an appearance. The peach cobbler is mine.
After dinner some of our Georgia rye, wheat and corn find their way into Georgia distilleries for conversion into spirits and fine sippin’.
Alma, Americus, Milledgeville, Dawsonville, Richland and Mount Airy are providing what UGA calls ‘Value Added’ products.
Now we don’t produce the hops for beer, but we grow just about everything else for Georgia-based breweries to operate. We have wineries growing grapes and producing wines in Georgia. We even have a winemaker producing a California quality wine from muscadine. And while we are talking things to drink, well we are the home and world headquarters for Coca Cola.
My point being we produce about all the food raw materials you could want and we have a lot of smart, innovative people putting together some truly great products.
We’re in Georgia. We don’t have to go anywhere else to get food, and good food at that. In fact most of the world envies what we have.
From sun up until after sun down and the year around I can consume Georgia-produced food exclusively and be quite content and happy…and get thicker across the middle every year.
Just cut me in half and count the rings.

Gardner lives in Keller and is the UGA extension agent for Glynn County, serving South Bryan.

 

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