Cultural heritage can give us all a sense of connection. It allows us to better understand previous generations and the history of where we came. This month we all have an opportunity to learn more about our history as May is Arkansas Heritage Month.
Arkansas’s culture today has significant influences from our natural resources, our musical history and political past. It is a colorful and unique heritage worth celebrating. Since the 1980’s, the Arkansas Department of Heritage has been dedicating this month of the year to do just that.
In order to learn more about a particular aspect of our state, a theme is chosen ever year. This year’s theme celebrates Arkansas’s food traditions. It is titled Come to the Table: Celebrating the Flavors of Arkansas.
"In early Arkansas, all food came from the land. Native Americans and early settlers hunted for meat, grew vegetables and fruits, and knew what plants and berries were edible," said Martha Miller, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. "Over the years, Arkansans became less dependent on the land, but many of our food traditions have remained (or are being reinvigorated). Today, the move towards locally sourced foods continues to grow."
Every district across the state is seeing Arkansas’s rich food heritage making its way back on the menu and in the market place. Just think about the growing popularity of local farmers markets and community gardens. We have also seen more and more specialty restaurants advertising the use of Arkansas’s grown products on the menu. Even national chains have added Southern favorites like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits.
"Food trucks, food bloggers, small farms, and artisanal/craft beers, cheeses and liquors have entered the mainstream of our food consciousness," Miller added.
You can participate in a variety of ways. Start by sharing your food traditions and experience on social media using the hashtag #SeeForYourself .
In addition, you can participate in cooking programs to writing workshops as Arkansas communities are hosting activities to celebrate Arkansas Heritage Month. Some of these activities are being funded with grants from the Department of Arkansas Heritage. For a list of Heritage Month events, visit GreatArkansasMoments.com.