Perhaps our forefathers could have easily anticipated the firework-filled, meat roasting summer celebration that July 4th has become. Since the birth of our nation, Americans have been known for their adventurous spirit and gluttonous appetite for life. The founding fathers in particular left a long history of Congressional fistfights and scathing diatribes over dinners, particularly during the drafting of The Declaration of Independence.
The Continental Congress convened at various points from May 1775 through July 1776 to debate the language, provisions and rights most appropriate to declare separation from the crown and country of Great Britain. Many compromises and months later, the Declaration of Independence was signed and marked with the date of July 4th. While full ratification and a long revolution were still to come, the signing of this document by the delegates of the Continental Congress marked the beginning of America’s struggle towards independence and our national holiday.
Americans began celebrating July 4th as Independence Day in 1777, the one year anniversary of the document’s passage. Similar to Independence Day celebrations today, early Americans celebrated their first year of freedom with gunfire, hearty meals, military parades and fireworks. However, Congress didn’t declare Fourth of July a federal holiday until 1938, when they made it a paid holiday for all federal employees. Today, we continue to celebrate Fourth of July with family, fireworks and the classic American tradition of food hot off the outdoor barbecue.
The popularity of barbecuing as a pastime isn’t restricted to the Fourth of July, but it does lead to a swell in the number of grills firing up around the country. The summer season, natural respite from the workplace and family nature of the holiday has turned July 4th into a day of barbecuing mania. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 81 million Americans took part in a barbecue last year. There’s little doubt that Independence Day celebrations gave these numbers a good boost.
While those 81 million Americans were not all tending the grill, many feasted on the cook’s efforts to serve up two of the most common barnyard animals appearing on American’s plates. Chances are this year’s July 4th barbecue will host one or more representatives from the bovine or pork family. As you give thanks for freedom, give a toast to the two states bringing you hearty helpings of your classic grilling meats.
Iowa, the Hawkeye State, gives shelter to 19 million hogs and pigs. According to census estimates, there’s a more than 1 in 4 chance that one of the sausages on your barbecue hail from this Midwest member of the Union as well. If beef is what’s for dinner at your barbecue, give a “howdy” to Texas. The Lone Star state produced 6.8 billion pounds of beef in 2010, making it responsible for one-sixth of the nation’s total beef production.
And of course, no Fourth of July barbecue is complete without the accoutrements, many of which hail from the Bear Republic on the Pacific. In 2010, California was among the national leaders in the production of lettuce, tomato and watermelon. Whether you like yours in a side salad or atop a hunk of juicy meat, give thanks to the California farmers who are responsible for the crunch to your Independence Day meal this year.
Now that you have some foodie facts to chew on, it’s time to get cooking! As you throw some chow on the grill, salute the ancestors, states and fellow Americans that make our celebration possible. Everyone at Outdora wishes you a happy Independence Day and happy grilling!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia Shackelford works as an SEO content developer, blogger, web developer, and creative writer in Petaluma, CA. When she’s not stomping around the Cali wilderness or writing, she works as a consultant and director on short films and educational game products across the Southwestern United States.