Eating Our Way Through Summer

Man, it was hot. But we ate well.

My family and I recently attended the annual music appreciation potluck dinner that’s sponsored by our church.

The parish provided meat and beverages. Choir members, pianists, guitarists, bell-ringers and their families brought along the rest of the food.

Here’s some of what we enjoyed on a 98-degree evening:

Pork, beef and chicken expertly smoked by our host in a converted water tank; an awesome salad of black beans, corn, and red onions; a yummy dish featuring broccoli, cashews, mandarin oranges and golden raisins; the obligatory and delicious gelatin offerings; chocolate-covered strawberries; homemade brownies and chocolate-peanut butter cake.

It’s sort of a truism that we here in the Midwest love our potlucks. Maybe it’s because we flat-out love to eat. But maybe it’s also because we have so much – and such a variety – of food to choose from.

Back in the day, a Kansas summer potluck featured huge amounts of food picked out of the garden, preserved the previous fall, or fresh from the pasture or chicken coop. That’s still the case. But let’s take a look at some of the other things we ate at that recent feast.

Cashews. Black beans. Golden raisins. Buffalo mozzarella cheese. Not items you typically find in a Kansas garden or on a Kansas farm. But thanks to the incredible diversity of American agriculture – and a top-notch transportation system – we’re able to enjoy foods from across the nation.

We eat a lot of Kansas beef in our family. I also look forward to watching my kids eat their weight in corn-on-the cob, peaches, strawberries and cherries this summer. We can get the corn and some of the strawberries from local Kansas farmers, but those peaches and cherries come from Georgia, Colorado, California and Michigan.

As my family and other Kansans eat our way through the summer at picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues, we owe a big thank you to the farmers and ranchers, both at home and across the country, who make it all possible.

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