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June 4, 2013
By Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

Whether I’m tending a fire in the pit or a sophisticated gas or charcoal grill, nothing pleases my taste buds better than something hot off the fire. It could be a freshly-caught fish sizzling over an open fire at the campsite or a marinated roast turning on the rotisserie. Either way, there’s something primal about cooking in the great outdoors over actual flames. I’d say it’s a guy thing, but many women also enjoy cooking over the grill (and are better at it than I am) . . . so I won’t go there.

If your Father’s Day celebration involves a meal cooked on the grill, here at VDACS we have plenty of suggestions. And all of them feature locally-available products that support Virginia’s 46,000+ farmers.

As the father of two, I hope I’ve learned a little something about the intricacies of grilling. Whether I throw a couple of quick burgers or some hot dogs on the grill or prepare my specialty, a ribeye, my kids love anything that’s cooked over a flame. One of these years, I’m going to celebrate Father’s Day by turning the spatula over to my daughter or son and share with them my secrets of great grilling. I will not share one secret, however. Often I get them to eat their vegetables by cooking them in a special way on the grill. They love sweet corn roasted in their husks or baby vegetables strung on skewers kabob style.

I always begin with Virginia grown or raised products. We have such a great diversity of products in Virginia, and I have tried to instill in my children the importance of buying local. Of course, sometimes the beef or the sweet corn is so local that we produce it on our own farm. Caroline and Carson love going to the field to pick sweet corn and sometimes they’ll even help remove the husks and silks.

If going to your fields or freezer isn’t an option for Virginian grown products, here are some of my suggestions on how to find the freshest, tastiest and the most close-by products ever:

Father’s Day is probably second only to the 4th of July as one of America’s greatest grilling holiday, and I encourage every Virginian to head to a farmers’ market, roadside stand, pick-your-own farm, clam shack or orchard to buy Virginia grown products for a special meal for Dad this year. I also invite the readers from other states to wander into Virginia and look for some of our famous products just right for grilling. Oh, and if my kids are reading, hey, guys, I could use a new bar-b-cue apron this year for Father’s Day.

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