In 2008, Arkansas was known as the rice capital of the United States. Alma, Arkansas is the Spinach capital of the world! Arkansas also leads the nation in poultry production.
In 1987, Arkansas voted in the Pink Tomato as its official state fruit and vegetable. Milk is the official beverage of this state.
The Pink Tomato
Farmers in Bradley County, Arkansas have been raising tomatoes for sale since the 1920s. They chose a variety of tomato that would ship well if picked when the tops of the fruit just barely turned pink. In 1956, a group of Warren merchants decided to host an event to celebrate the tomato industry and to help promote business in the area. The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival was born. It has since become a major summertime event!
A medium-sized pink tomato is smooth and a beautiful rose color. This tomato is an excellent variety from Arkansas, tolerant to heat and humidity; crack and disease resistant.
“Most of the early pioneers who moved west bypassed what is now Arkansas and its Ozark Mountains because of the rocky landscape and poor soil. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, however, hard-working farmers from Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, who were used to farming under difficult conditions, settled in Arkansas. They brought their recipes for curing hams, roasting pork ribs over open fires, and baking soda biscuits and molasses cakes…Since Arkansas borders the South, the Southwest, and the Midwest, it has a mixture of cuisines. Plantation cookery of the Mississippi Valley, the hill cooking of the Ozarks, and the Mexican influences of Texas and Oklahoma all combine to make a unique style of food…There is a great emphasis of real “down-home” flavors. Fried pork chops with light-brown cream gravy to which bits of sausage have been added have remained a favorite dish. Sausage is also used in poultry stuffing, along with cooked rice. Arkansas-style chicken is prepared by first simmering the chicken pieces in a skillet and then baking them in the oven with a Creole sauce. Each region of Arkansas has its own unique food. In the southern bayou country, roast duck, candied yams, fried chicken, fluffy biscuits and peach cobblers are often served. Around Texarkana, pinto beans and barbecued beef of the Southwest are typical fare. Along the Mississippi River, catfish are popular in stews and fried…In the hill country of the Ozarks, dishes such as bacon with cracklings corn bread, baked beans, wilted lettuce with bacon and vinegar, bread and apple jelly, and ginger bread for dessert are traditional everyday fare…Roasted raccoon, roasted beaver-tail, and baked opossum are Arkansas soul food…Arkansans prefer hot bread with their meals…They like steaming-hot corn breads, hot biscuits, or fresh-out-of-the-oven rolls. Strawberry shortcake is a favorite dessert of Arkansans…The Arkansas version of the shortcake uses a crisp, buttery biscuit, which is split in half, soaked in strawberry juice, and then topped with a mound of whipped cream and fresh strawberries…Over the past 50 years, Arkansas has become an important poultry-producing state, as well as a major producer of fruits, vegetables, rice, and soybeans. In the 1840s Arkansas farmers began experimenting with orchards. Their apples soon won first prizes…Peaches also became an important Arkansas fruit crop.”
Tastes of the States: A Food History of America, Hilde Gabriel Lee [Howell Press: Charlottesville VA] 1992 (p. 106-9)