One other thing I received in my CSA box was collard greens. I’ll be honest, I consider myself a good southern girl, but I am not a huge fan of greens. My mom and grandma never really made them either, so I didn’t have much of a reference point on what to do with them. I eventually ended up making a greens casserole because cheese and breadcrumbs cover up any possible taste you might not like. I’m definitely going to try to prepare them in a healthier way next time I receive them or maybe incorporate them in the place of spinach in some dishes, or throw them in a green smoothie.
During my search to find collard green fans and chefs, I came across an interesting fact–as of June 2011, South Carolina’s state vegetable is the collard green (1). Personally, I think its great idea, promoting a traditional vegetable with state pride. If I were a mom in South Carolina I could see myself trying to convince my kids to eat collards because it was the state vegetable. I started to investigate other state vegetables just to see how many other states have decided to promote veggies. Sadly not many, only 8 other states had state vegetables, and that’s if you want to count sweet potatoes and watermelon. If you don’t count those as veggies the number drops down to 5. Even further, South Carolina is the only state to have a leafy green as their state vegetable. So, what exactly are we telling people with our lack of state vegetable choices? Vegetables aren’t as important as some of the “tastier” foods out there?
As I was going through state foods, most of the choices were dedicated to unhealthy dishes and desserts such as chicken fried steak and pies (2). I’m not opposed to these dishes in anyway, I’ve had them more times then I’d like to admit. However, I think with the obesity epidemic that the United States is facing and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign that congressmen would jump all over an opportunity to promote veggies. Even if it is in a small way such as enacting a law for a state vegetable. I definitely think there’s room for state dishes, desserts, AND vegetables.
What would you pick as your state vegetable? Louisiana’s is already the sweet potato, but I might choose the trinity (celery, onion, and bellpepper) that start off so many of our regional dishes. Even though I’m not a huge fan, okra could definitely be a front runner for state vegetable. Last, my dark horse candidate for state vegetable would be the mirliton, which in my opinion is most similar to a squash.