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August 2011

Fire Up Your Grill, It’s Summertime

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. For me, it is Mother Nature’s way of telling us to pull in the reins and calm our pace. Humorist James Dent summed it up perfectly when he said, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken.” In essence, it’s time to slow down and enjoy our blessings.

For me, summer is a time to take pleasures in my family, the outdoors, the heat – coming from Texas, the hotter the summer the better – and of course, the food. It’s a time to savor all that the season has to offer.

Bring on the ‘que

In my mind, nothing says summer more than a backyard barbeque. There’s nothing better than fresh corn-on-the-cob, potato salad and a juicy steak or chop. Barbecuing is a means of bringing together family and friends, as well as an excuse for us to proudly show off our finely tuned ability to cook meat over a blazing fire.

Backyard barbecues are as much a summer tradition as cooling off in the water sprinkler, eating ice cream from a truck or cheering on your favorite baseball team. According to a national study by Weber, outdoor grilling has increased 22 percent this year. The study also shows that 71 percent of all Americans own an outdoor grill.

To me, this says that while the economy is still climbing its way back up, Americans are turning more to at-home entertainment and dining rather than eating out. And as always, America’s farmers and ranchers are ready to provide all of the ingredients, along with the fixins.

American grown

Growing up in Texas, nothing was better than a rib-eye fresh off the grill. While a whopping 96 percent of all Americans grill burgers according to Weber, I prefer a big, juicy steak any day.

But as we sit down to our grilled meats (whatever your preference), potato salad and watermelon this summer, we need to keep in mind that we are able to feed our families safe and wholesome food because of America’s farmers and ranchers.

For example, Indiana farmer Heather Hill sells select pork products at her niche market, The Pork Shoppe. Using several hogs from her family’s pork farm, she provides local residents with farm-fresh chops and other pork cuts. And because of fruit growers like Michigan farmer Ben LaCross and his family, who grow cherries, plums and apples on their 600-acre orchard and sell them nationally, we can all enjoy America’s best summer desserts – fruit pies.

Whether you find your barbeque ingredients at your grocery store or local farmers’ market, you can bet it was grown with pride by U.S. farmers. So, fire up the grill and tie on your aprons, summertime is here.