Passing the casserole over the good news about Arizona potluck law

I found out something rather disheartening this morning as I hopped on the Internet and read the news back home (For those of you reading my blog for the first time, “home” is Chino Valley, Arizona).

Apparently, I grew up in a state of criminals.

What’s worse, I grew up with a family of criminals.

I didn’t grow up in a family that carried out executions mob-style or trafficked cocaine. Oh, no. The sin goes much deeper. My family engaged in the illicit activity of holding family holiday get-togethers as (gulp!) potlucks.

Every Thanksgiving. Every Easter. Christmastime? Ho, ho, ho. It’s a potluck! My grandmother or one of my aunts would prepare turkey or ham and usually the mashed potatoes. My mother and the rest of the family would bring other side dishes. My mother was particularly known for her pies (Oh, Mom! How could you?)

My mother, shown with my youngest niece, Kori, made some pies for Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago in Wisconsin. If they had done this in Arizona and taken it to a potluck, they would have actually run afoul of the law. (Photo by Lee Pulaski)

If you’re thoroughly confused, don’t worry. I was baffled to read in The Daily Courier, the daily newspaper for Yavapai County, that the state passed legislation eliminating a provision in the law that made potlucks that took place anywhere but “at a workplace.” Anywhere else was considered to be a “noncommercial social event” and was therefore illegal due to concerns about food safety.


Who knew? Potlucks have been key traditions in households, churches and sports stadiums since the invention of food. Who would have thought that, somewhere along the way, puritanical lawmakers in Arizona decided that the sharing and trading of food was the gateway to hell and must be shut down?

The only reason the rarely enforced law has come to light is because Pinal County wanted to close down a trailer park that regularly held potlucks. It’s yet another example of the nanny state that America has let itself turn into.

Potlucks provide the opportunity to reconnect with friends face to face, something that has become less common in this modern world and its proliferation of social media. While some of the food at potlucks has been questionable in taste, I’ve never really pondered the possibility that someone might have prepared a tuna casserole to carry out my demise.

I’m glad to see this reverse in paranoia where potlucks are concerned, but there are plenty of instances in states and communities where the government thinks it knows best when it comes to food. Here are some examples:

◊ Crackdowns on bake sales, requiring that the food be prepped in a professional kitchen.

◊ City governments raining on the parades of children doing lemonade stands because they don’t have business licenses.

◊ Outdoor soup kitchens for the homeless, just because it brings the poor into public view.

It’s bizarre that such a law existed, and hardly anyone knew about it, except some apparently bored and vindictive politicians. Baby steps are still steps, though, and as long as they’re in the right direction, that’s all that matters.

Meanwhile, I’m going to celebrate our family tradition being legalized. You’re all welcome to come. Please bring a side dish.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s