State Sen. Gudger revives effort to make the sweet potato the ‘official state vegetable of Alabama’
A quick Google search would reveal Alabama has an official state symbol for almost everything — state amphibian, state bird, state crustacean, state mammal, state reptile, state tree, state spirit, etc.
However, in a state with such a heavy agricultural presence, there is no state vegetable. A group of homeschoolers sought to change that with an effort initially launched in 2019 for Alabama’s bicentennial.
Kristin Smith, a teacher in north Alabama, encouraged her students to reach out to their members of the legislature about the possibility of designating the sweet potato as the state vegetable. Legislators were responsive, and shortly thereafter, the effort picked up momentum with a bill that would make it official. However, because of the COVID-19 interruption in 2020, the bill never had a chance to be considered.
During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) discussed taking up the effort for the 2021 regular session with SB 171 and how it could be a civics lesson for those involved.
“First of all, this bill came to me through three other Senators — Sam Givhan, Tom Butler and Arthur Orr from last year,” he explained. “They filed this bill last year, and it got stopped because of COVID. But let me tell you the origin of this, and that’s what is really the key is that in the bicentennial there was a class of homeschooled children. The teacher was Kristin Smith. She said we’re going to go and do all the recipes from the blackberry being the state fruit and the yellowhammer being the state animal. From that, they noticed there was not a state vegetable. They took a survey in their class and researched it. They realized the sweet potato is the most prominent vegetable that is in Alabama, and it is grown throughout the state. They said, you know, we’re going to take it one step further and write our legislators and see if we can make that the state vegetable because they’re talking about government, and they wanted to see the process of how a bill became into, evolve into becoming law.”
“From that, it did not pass last year,” Gudger continued. “They brought it back. Cullman, Alabama is known for sweet potatoes. This will be the 25th year we’ve had a sweet potato festival. We have 150 vendors from all over the nation come in and thousands of people during Labor Day, by the way. From that, they said you probably should handle this bill. I’ve done. This, I truly believe, is a feel-good bill because there is so much tension at times with some of the bills that are being passed, from one side or the other. I really believe that this really could be a good deal, for everybody to come along and at the same time, it is for a good reason. It shows the youth that they have a voice and they can be heard, and they can make change — even if they’re still a freshman in high school.”
Gudger also pointed out the sweet potato is grown throughout the state, from Mobile County in the southwestern part of the state to Sand Mountain in the northeastern part of Alabama.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.