Agriculture and the Fourth of July
Like many holidays, the Fourth of July is connected to agriculture! In the spirit of celebrating our Independence Day this weekend, we can look at a quote about agriculture from Thomas Jefferson. The Founding Father and former president stated, “Agriculture.. is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to wealth, good morals, and happiness…”. Jefferson proclaimed the importance of agriculture in our country in a letter he wrote to George Washington.
The largest way that agriculture connects to the Fourth of July is through cookouts, barbeques, and picnics. 61% of Americans will celebrate the holiday with a cookout, picnic, or barbeque. The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday to celebrate by having a barbeque (picnic or cookout). Barbeques have been a tradition at the White House since Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. Another interesting fact about the White House’s barbeque celebration is that President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted the first White House Barbeque to have Texas-style ribs, according to RFD-TV.
Food dishes of all kinds all have a connection to agriculture. Burgers, steak, hot dogs, and chicken are the most popular meat choices to be grilled. According to Karyn Moyer from AgHires.com, “Every 4th of July, 150 million hot dogs are consumed in the U.S.” Moyer also explained that most of the pork hot dogs and sausages come from Iowa, while most of the beef hot dogs, burgers, and steaks will come from Texas, Nebraska, or Kansas. Corn, potatoes, other veggies, fruits, and beer are other popular barbeque foods that are connected to or provided from the agriculture industry.
The American Farm Bureau Federation reported on June 27th that the cost of Fourth of July cookouts are 17% higher than last year. The increase in price is not a complete surprise, considering the increase of prices in many other industries as well. The Farm Bureau stated, “The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $69.68, which breaks down to less than $7 per person.” They explain that the price increase from last year is a result of continued supply chain disruptions, inflation, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. For reference, the cost of a Fourth of July cookout in 2020 was $59.66 and was $59.50 in 2021.
Specific average prices for typical cookout items that the American Farm Bureau Federation lists includes the following. Prices listed are the average for across the country. One package of hamburger buns will sell for $1.93, while one pound of cheese will sell for $3.53. A 16 ounce bag of chips will sell for $4.71 and a two and a half pound container of potato salad will sell for $3.27. Two and a half quarts of lemonade sells for $4.43, one package of cookies sells for $4.31, and a half gallon tub of ice cream sells for $5.16. For meat, two pounds of ground beef will sell for $11.12, two pounds of chicken breast for $8.99, and three pounds of pork chops for $15.26.
Considering the price increase of food this year, some tips to minimize food waste from the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) could be beneficial to know. Their first piece of advice is to plan the dishes you want to serve before going to the grocery store. They also mention communicating what food each person is bringing to a potluck cookout. In the event of having leftovers, they say to be prepared with take home containers. Then, the leftovers can be used in different, fun recipes.
We hope that you have a safe and fun Fourth of July this year, however you plan on celebrating. If your celebration happens to be with a cookout, you can remember the hard work that our growers and agriculture industry workers put in to provide the best quality food to your cookout. Happy Fourth of July!