Food says so much about where you’ve come from, where you’ve decided to go, and the lessons you’ve learned. It’s geography, politics, tradition, belief and so much more and this week, we invite you to dig in and discover the rich, ever-evolving taste of America in 2011. The week will culminate with a Secret Supper in New York City, and Eatocracy invites you to participate online starting Monday July 11th at 6:30 p.m. E.T.
You can tell a lot about a place from the kinds of vegetables (and fruits) eaten there. Crops vary from place to place, and growing season to growing season.
When we looked at the submissions that came in, it was interesting to see how the people who responded to the assignment were consuming different sorts of produce around the country.
Joy Huber of Seward, Nebraska, showed us a locally themed "Cornhuskers lunch" as a tribute to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. To represent her state's most famous crop, she served a meal with corn on the cob featured prominently, along with red-and-white foods for the school colors. Huber also served grilled beef with the meal, another local favorite.
"In the Midwest, dishes are based around beef with lots of cattle farmers, pork and chicken."
Michael Arnold, 46, of Marshall, North Carolina, made a dinner of a garden salad, chicken Parmesan, basmati rice, collard greens, sliced apple and a glass of red wine. He grows the collard greens in the garden. Still, he added, acceptance of the greens isn't universal where he lives.
"Many of my friends hate collards even though we live in the South and they are common," he said.
The East Coast is home to some lovely berry harvests. Berry picking is a family Fourth of July tradition for Janie Lambert of Hughesville, Maryland. She usually picks blackberries with the kinfolk, but this year the group picked the many raspberries in the patch and made a pie out of them. The berries are also good for munching, she says.
Down in the Gulf region, Ariel Gratch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, headed to a local farmer's market to pick up the necessary ingredients for stuffed tomatoes with asparagus. Gratch says he discovered a new love for vegetables after growing up a picky eater and consuming "mainly fried chicken, French fries and fish sticks" for a long time. Then, one day he tired of ramen noodles and started experimenting.
"The more I cooked, the more willing I became to try new things. Additionally, dating a vegetarian and trying to keep kosher in the deep South kind of forces me to eat a lot of vegetables."
California was veggie-heavy. In San Diego, California, Tricia Berry is a vegetarian, and she says that getting to eat plenty of plant-based foods is one of the good things that comes along with being an empty nester. She shared a photo of an eggplant Parmesan meal with us. Ingredients include eggplant, tomato sauce, almonds, mozzarella cheese, panko crumbs and olive oil. One of her goals is to make sure there will be plenty of protein. With summer seasonal fruits around, she enjoyed a salad of cantaloupe and blueberries.
And in Culver City, California, we saw a vegetarian version of southern soul food from Ron Hudson. The meal features collard greens, mustard greens, corn on the cob, black-eyed peas, and macaroni and cheese.
What do you eat where you live? Do you grow any of your own food? Share your photos and participate in the CNN iReport cultural census, part of CNN's Defining America series. We want to hear from you.