Oregon ag offers a lot of products for Super Bowl parties
Chances are the beer you drink contains Oregon hops
Super Bowl Sunday is more than just watching football on TV. The annual event is also a chance to enjoy the great tastes of Oregon. When the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Indianapolis February 5, party-goers will pile their plates and satisfy their palates with a variety of foods and beverages that may have their origin in Oregon.
"Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most fun events around that really showcases what we grow and produce in Oregon," says Laura Barton, trade manager with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. "Oregonians can actually have one of the tastiest Super Bowl parties of all by including what we grow and harvest in our state."
Beer, wine, chips, nuts, cheeses, meat snacks- you name it, chances are a good portion of it comes from Oregon.
"The event has really grown over the years from being just a sporting event to becoming one of the biggest party events of the year where a lot of food and beverages are consumed," says Barton.
Statistics may not settle who is a better quarterback between Tom Brady and Eli Manning, but they do show just how big Super Bowl Sunday is when it comes to food and beverage consumption. Only Thanksgiving, a holiday that centers on food, beats out Super Bowl Sunday. More than 125 million Americans participate in Super Bowl parties with an average of 17 people per party. Nationally, each Super Bowl viewer will consume about 1,200 calories during this Sunday's game. Specifically, about 28 million pounds of potato chips are expected to be consumed, along with more than 49 million cases of beer and enough dip to cover a football field from end zone to end zone more than three feet deep.
Whether the football fan or party-goer is a neat nibbler or a hoggish devourer, the beverage of choice, by far, is beer. On Super Bowl Sunday, beer consumption is about 17 times the average daily consumption in the US. In most cases, that great flavor of beer can be traced back to agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. Washington and Oregon rank first and second respectively in US production of hops- the key ingredient in beer- and are responsible for about 90 percent of the nation's hop production. Whether it is the big name brews consumed nationwide or the crafted beers brewed locally, fans can thank Northwest hop growers for making much of the beloved beverage possible.
"Oregon prides itself in not only having a high number of craft brewers, but the state is one of the largest supporters in the country of craft beer in terms of consumption," says Barton. "We still sell and consume a lot of national brands, but don't forget- those beers are likely to contain some Oregon hops."
This past year, Oregon produced more than 8 million pounds of hops valued at $23 million.
Not everyone is a beer drinker. It may not seem to fit the stereotypical football beverage, but a number of Super Bowl viewers will be sipping wine, of which many are produced in Oregon. The non-alcoholic crowd can enjoy a variety of teas that may be flavored with Oregon mint or fruit punch containing Oregon fruit juices. For a great delicious flavor, Oregon cranberry juice blended with Marionberry juice offers a taste sensation.
Football fans don't live by beverage alone. Salty snack foods are scarfed up in quick fashion during the Super Bowl. Oregon agriculture is once again a big contributor.
"We grow a lot of chipping potatoes," says Barton. "Oregon also has producers of regular potato chips or the baked variety lower in fat and salt."
Kettle Chips is an Oregon company that distributes nationally. For the record, potatoes are Oregon's 7th ranked agricultural commodity with a production value of $176 million. Many are grown for the fresh market, but a sizable amount- mostly produced in the Columbia Basin- are for chipping.
Chips are okay, but they are better when momentarily submerged in a dip. Oregon boasts a number of companies that produce dips and salsa. Reser's Fine Foods is another national brand based in Oregon, but there are other local producers of Super Bowl chip dip. Beaverton Foods produces a wide array of condiments often used for parties. Their horseradish, grown near the Oregon-California border, can be stirred into a yogurt or cheese to make a flavorful dip or spread.
And speaking of cheese, there is usually a tray of cheeses on display at every Super Bowl party. Oregon artisan cheeses have emerged as some of the world's best. Well known national brands such as Tillamook and Rogue Valley also offer something delicious to go along with a cracker or meat slice.
Meat snacks are bound to be on the menu this Sunday. Oregon is experiencing a growing interest in charcuterie- a branch of cooking centered on prepared meat products such as ham, salami, sausage, and pate. It's more than possible these products come from local meat producers. It is also likely that smoked Oregon albacore tuna or salmon might be on the table. Oregon albacore tuna or salmon mixed in with cream cheese makes a fancy, tasty dip or spread.
Then there is the popular party food product that is virtually 100 percent Oregon- hazelnuts. Oregon companies offer plain or flavored hazelnuts.
"I add them into popcorn for a great crunch," says Barton.
There are many healthy alternatives to the usual beer and chips. Locally grown frozen fruits, Oregon yogurt, and some of the low fat salsas and chutneys provide tremendous taste at a fraction of the calories.
Whatever the choice, this Sunday's Super Bowl is likely to include a taste of Oregon. Unfortunately, there is one Oregon crop that often is actually part of the football game, but not this year. Oregon grass seed has been used to produce the healthy, hearty turf that supports all the on-field action. However, this year's Super Bowl is played at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium- complete with artificial turf. But there's always next year.
For more information, contact Laura Barton at (503) 872-6600.
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