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Serving: IN

What I like about the 'rubber chicken and green bean' circuit

The best part of farmer meetings is the food, despite the reputation of 'rubber chicken.'

Someone asked me at the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District annual meeting recently if I was tired of "green beans and rubber chicken" by this point in the season. Like me, this person usually attends lots of meetings in the late fall and through winter. Every SWCD around the state has a meeting, seed corn companies sponsor meals – nearly every ag group hosts a meeting in the winter. What better way to do it than with food?

I'm not sure who invented the term "green bean and rubber chicken circuit," but it was someone who likely made a living in the winter speaking at meetings. Years ago it seemed like the fare was often green beans, mashed potatoes and chicken. Sometimes the food wasn't the best, although I've found very little food I couldn't eat.

People in charge of meetings have kept up with changing times. If you want people to come to your meetings, you have good food. Either you host it at a well-known restaurant, or you hire a well-known caterer, often someone known locally for putting out good food. And you make sure you have plenty of it.

So today, I would dub it the "good food circuit."

Here is a rundown of some of the best meals I've had recently at meetings. My apologies to those not on the list. I don't have room for everyone – I travel too much and eat way too much for that!

Number one, without question, is any meal held at the Indiana FFA Center featuring smoked pork chops. There are smoked pork chops, and then there are Joe Park's famous smoked pork chops. The former ag teacher and FFA Center director has been known for his pork chops for nearly 40 years. They're so well known locally that all you have to do is say "we're having Joe Park and his pork chops" and you're guaranteed a crowd.

Next, any meal prepared by the Rolling Pin caterer in Versailles is a "must eat' event. It truly is an event, from their long line of salads, sumptuous meats and vegetables, to their monkey bread for dessert. They put out lots of food, and it's all good! If I'm on the fence about a meeting and I find out they're doing lunch or dinner, I usually find myself in the car headed that direction.

Related: Make Good Use of Winter Farm Meetings and Shows

I'm a sucker for beef brisket when it's slow-cooked and winds up juicy and tender. Chris Parker, retired Morgan County Extension educator, held a meeting every March hosted by the folks that make Apache sprayers in Mooresville. Many times the entrée is beef brisket, prepared by a local caterer. All Chris had to do was tell me when the meeting was, and it went on my calendar!

I can't forget Shoup's Catering. If you are having a meeting anywhere in central Indiana, the secret to filling the room is telling folks you're serving Shoups pulled pork with all the fixings. It's a family business that put out some of the tastiest pork I've ever had – and that's saying something. Why do you think all those people show up at Beck Hybrids Becknology Days near Atlanta every year? You think they come to hear about plots and buy seed? Well they do, but I think the real reason they come is to eat Shoup's barbecue!

Well, I've made myself sufficiently hungry, so it's time to go get a snack. I'm sure you have your own list of fine cuisine served only at famer meetings. Let me know what you like best. And tell me when and where the next meeting is!

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