Farm to Market

The Setting the Texas Table exhibit logo showing a plate with a fork, knife and spoon on top of a red outline of Texas

The food on our plates completes a long and complicated flow of planning, harvesting, distribution, and sale. The simplicity of a prepared dinner is made easy today with the wide availability of food choices and grocery stores. The intense labor of farming and getting produce to the consumer is at the heart of the Texas food story.

Up until that late 1800s, Texas was predominantly a rural state with small family farms. Families raised their own livestock and planted seeds by hand, generating enough food for subsistence living. In 1870, the number of Texas farms was about 61,000. By 1900 the number was 350,000 and a signal that the state’s role in agriculture needed to keep pace with a booming economy.

 In order to feed growing population centers, the state needed pathways to connect outlying farmers with Texas markets hungry for agricultural products. In the late 1930s, the Texas Department of Transportation began developing a system of “farm to market” and “ranch to market” roads that stretched across counties to ensure farmers could supply Texas dinner tables with home-grown fare. Access to their rich diversity of crops became common.

Hominy Pot

The most significant grain crop of Texas was corn, also known as maize. Hominy consists of whole corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkaline solution in a process used by ancient Aztecs called nixtamalization. The fluffy white puffs of corn appear in posole, a Mexican stew. Nixtamalized corn kernels may also be ground into a flour called masa, which is used to create tortillas, chips, and tamales.

Exhibit Video

Turkey Recipes - Motion Picture, video, and sound recordings, Texas Department of Agriculture Records.
1994/009-03-07

Exhibit Items

A photograph of the lemon squeezer in a closed position. Lemon squeezer, 1850-1900. Artifacts collection, ATF0223A photograph of the lemon squeezer in an opened position. Lemon squeezer, 1850-1900. Artifacts collection, ATF0223Lemon squeezer, 1850-1900. Artifacts collection, ATF0223.

This lemon squeezer was once used by the family of Texas Governor Elisha M. Pease. Citrus is one of Texas’ successful agricultural products including grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and tangelos.

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A photographof a two men holding cabbages in a cabbage field. Cabbage growing, Hidalgo County, 1932. Stugard collection, Image 1963/185-163Cabbage growing, Hidalgo County, 1932. Stugard collection, Image 1963/185-163.

O.H. Stugard moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1924 to begin operation of the Stugard Ranch, which grew irrigated citrus and vegetables. Multiple generations of the Stugard family were involved in expanding the operation. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.




 

A sheet of green paper with black text on it and an illustration of planting seeds in a garden. Your Vegetable Garden: It’s only as good as the seed that you plant, 1989. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226Your Vegetable Garden: It’s only as good as the seed that you plant, 1989. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226.

The Texas Department of Agriculture works to ensure the success of both large and small vegetable production in Texas.

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A type written sheet of paper with the TDA letterhead on top. Press release, Commissioner Jim Hightower, July 8, 1986. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226Press release, Commissioner Jim Hightower, July 8, 1986. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226.

While wine production in Texas may seem like a recent endeavor, in fact it has been a focus of the Texas Department of Agriculture for decades. This press release invites attendees to learn more about awards won by Texas wineries, and taste the successful products.

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A legal size sheet of paper with black text on it. Governor Stevenson’s Victory Garden Week proclamation, March 6, 1945. Victory Garden Week, Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson records, Box 4-14/172Governor Stevenson’s Victory Garden Week proclamation, March 6, 1945. Victory Garden Week, Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson records, Box 4-14/172.

In 1945, Governor Stevenson issued this proclamation to publicize the state’s goal of 1 million victory gardens, with each garden producing several hundred pounds of vegetables. And the proclamation issued by the governor was encouraged to “concentrating the thinking and efforts of the people of Texas,” toward this goal.

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A photograph of a woman buying avocados with the vendor putting them into a bag. Farmer’s market, Dallas, 1983. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-100, Image 83-030B-32a (digital facsimile)Farmer’s market, Dallas, 1983. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-100, Image 83-030B-32a (digital facsimile).

Promoted throughout the state, farmer’s markets help communities taste some of the diverse array of fruits and vegetables grown in Texas.

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A photograph of a black pot with two small handles on the sides. Hominy pot, 1835-1845. Artifacts collection, ATF0407Hominy pot, 1835-1845. Artifacts collection, ATF0407.

This hominy pot was once owned by Nancy Simmons, who traveled to Texas in Stephen F. Austin’s second group of colonists.

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A burnt orange color on the cover of the book with black text on it. Hominy recipe from Fergusson, Erna. Mexican Cookbook. Albuquerque, NM: The University of New Mexico press, 1945. TSLAC-Main Collection, 641.5 F381 (digital facsimile)A page in the book on yellow paper showing a recipe NIXTAMAL or HOMINY. A burnt orange color on the cover of the book with black text on it. Hominy recipe from Fergusson, Erna. Mexican Cookbook. Albuquerque, NM: The University of New Mexico press, 1945. TSLAC-Main Collection, 641.5 F381 (digital facsimile)Hominy recipe from Fergusson, Erna. Mexican Cookbook. Albuquerque, NM: The University of New Mexico press, 1945. TSLAC-Main Collection, 641.5 F381 (digital facsimile).

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A poster of the state of Texas with different colors for different regions in Texas and a list of produce on the bottom. Texas Produce map, 1991. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226Texas Produce map, 1991. Texas Department of Agriculture records, Box 2011/226.

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A photograph of a film strip showing images of workers dumping carrots in a container. Van De Walle Carrot Operation; harvesting and packaging, 1984. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-105, Image 84-070A-13a thru 17aVan De Walle Carrot Operation; harvesting and packaging, 1984. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-105, Image 84-070A-13a thru 17a.

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A photograph of two men standing next to a pile of oranges in an orange grove. Men in orange grove, San Juan, Texas, undated. Stugard collection, Image 1963/185-1559Men in orange grove, San Juan, Texas, undated. Stugard collection, Image 1963/185-1559.

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A photograph of two hands holding hominy on top of a pot on a stove. Maiz pozolero (hominy) image from Medrano, Adán. Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2014. Texas Documents Collection, Z TT422.8 M469trMaiz pozolero (hominy) image from Medrano, Adán. Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2014. Texas Documents Collection, Z TT422.8 M469tr.

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 Next - Great Eats! Making It Official ->

Setting the Texas Table Exhibit Pages:

Setting the Texas Table | Cooking Up Texas | The Lean Table | Farm to Market |
Great Eats! Making It Official | Land And Cattle | Celebrating the Taste of Texas |

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Page last modified: September 28, 2018