Put Alabama on your tables

Published 12:35 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

One of Alabama’s longstanding Thanksgiving traditions is the governor pardoning a turkey. What is important to note is that the turkey is Alabama grown. Bates Turkey Farm in Lowndes County has been growing turkeys since 1923, and is renowned around the country for quality and flavor. It is one of many in-state agricultural producers that grow some of the world’s best foods.

As we get ready to prepare what is probably the most important meal of the year, it would be nice to use as many Alabama products as possible at our tables. Not only will the quality and flavor be the best, but you’ll also be helping out the Alabama economy and our local farms as businesses as well.

Every part of the state relies on agriculture to some extent for its economy and sustenance. Alabama agriculture generates more than $4 billion in sales, and tens of thousands of Alabama families work on their farms and in the processing of Alabama products.

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Some of the Alabama foodstuffs you already know. When you put out the dip during the football games, you can use Golden Flake potato chips. When serving tea, you can use Milo’s or make your own with Red Diamond. There are appetizers you can make from Dean’s sausage, Conecuh sausage or Zeigler’s cold cuts. Serve the kids milk from Dairy Fresh, and put Sister Schubert’s rolls on the table. These are just some of the Alabama made products and Alabama based companies. They are also delicious.

When you are out looking for your sweet potatoes or collard greens to put on the Thanksgiving table, look to see if they have the Alabama A+ logo on them. This emblem shows the produce was grown in Alabama by local farmers.

Buying locally guarantees freshness and quality. Also, it is the best way to support Alabama farmers and to help the state economy as a whole. When we buy Alabama produce, the dollars we spend stay in the state, boosting our economy and generating revenue that goes to our schools.

Moreover, buying locally ensures that the food is safe. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries recently just continued a “stop sale” on imported catfish other aquaculture products from several Southeast Asian countries. The fish tested positive for an antibiotic that is banned in the United States, with some fish showing a concentration fifty times greater than the minimum allowed. You know when you buy Alabama products that they have passed rigorous food safety measures, a comforting thought as you sit your family down to the big meal.

AJ McCampbell is a state representative serving Marengo County.