It’s hard to believe the sight of fire­works stands pop­ping up in park­ing lots across Amer­ica. The visual reminder that Inde­pen­dence Day is still on the cal­en­dar is a jolt to all of us in the food indus­try.

We’ve all been nav­i­gat­ing the tur­bu­lent COVID-​19 times. To rein­vent how July 4th will be cel­e­brated requires great imag­i­na­tion.

Arguably the most famous 4th of July food tra­di­tion is the all-​American bar­be­cue. In nor­mal times, this back­yard or park event brings Amer­i­can fam­i­lies and friends together.

While this year’s cel­e­bra­tions may limit who we gather with or how many are included, there is still every rea­son to put fresh food cen­ter stage.

Locally grown mel­ons, berries, sweet corn, stone fruits, toma­toes and sweet onions are abun­dant just as we approach the hol­i­day. Putting these farm fresh win­ners on the hol­i­day menu can con­nect us in ways big­ger than COVID.

All of the stay­ing at home and eat­ing at home has turned con­ven­tional meal shar­ing on its side. We are eager to ven­ture out to restau­rants and cafes and be served by some­one other than ourselves.

Past 2020 birth­days, anniver­saries, grad­u­a­tions and Mom and Dad days have robbed us of being together for with favorite peo­ple. This com­ing Sat­ur­day will be a chance to gather in care­ful small groups to eat, drink and make some merry.

Break out often requested fam­ily recipes or source new ones for potato sal­ads and slaws. Easy sides — tomato, sweet onion, cucum­ber and basil— are col­or­ful cold com­pli­ments to the grill.

Keep the grill in play with peaches, nec­tarines, apri­cots and pineap­ple. Stand alone or on the side, they amplify any sum­mer table.

Water­melon and romaine lovers even use these two star play­ers on the grill. It’s not for every­one, but dare to be bold. A Bal­samic driz­zle can quickly change a closed mind to new grill mates.

The usual sus­pects on the grill– corn, pep­pers, squash, onions and egg­plant are long­time crowd-​pleasers. They might be even more man­age­able for a smaller, con­trolled group gath­er­ing.

Grilled corn salsa or grilled veg­gie skew­ers with aioli launch the party. Gua­camole, cap­rese salad and chili pep­per pop­pers keep things fresh from the start.

Desserts always bring the glory home. Berry par­faits, fruit pies or cob­blers and home made peach ice cream add the fin­ish­ing touch. Ice­box cakes with lemon or blue­berry take the dessert table over the top. Straw­berry short­cake puts every­one in a good mood.

Keep­ing our social dis­tance has its mer­its. So too does cel­e­brat­ing the July 4th hol­i­day in style. Go red, white and booze and stay home.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.