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South Polls Pass the Grits The national food of the South is celebrated in a Roy Blount poem and a Stan Woodward film—but who eats it? (Or is it "them"?) A 1991 Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of 1,171 southerners found that roughly one in four eats grits "frequently," another one in four "sometimes," one in five "seldom," and one-third "never." Southerners were asked about their likes and dislikes of certain regional foods—including grits. Here's how it fared. There also are types of food associated with the South. How often do you eat [grits]— frequently, sometimes, seldom, or never? Frequently22% Sometimes23% Seldom20% Never34% Total number polled1,171 The Fall 1992 Southern Focus Poll followed up on this serious matter with a slightly more specific set of answers. It also asked a sample of nonsoutherners the same question. Not surprisingly, southerners are more likely to eat grits than nonsoutherners. Even so, roughly one-third of southern respondents say they never eat the stuff. Do you ever eat grits? (If yes) How often do you eat them—just occasionally, a few times a month, more than once a week, or almost every day? Southerners (%)Nonsoutherners (%) More than once a week 143 A few times a month123 Just occasionally4033 No, never3461 Total number polled(744)(476) Obviously, some southerners aren't doing their share. In particular, urban and well-educated southerners, younger folks, and migrants to the region (even those who've been here a while) are letting down the side. On the other hand, black southerners, folks in the Deep South, and regular churchgoers (obviously not mutually exclusive categories) have nothing to apologize for. 530 Southern Cultures Among southern respondents, % who eat grits More than once a week Never Deep South (SC, GA, AL, MS, LA) Peripheral South Lived in South AU of life More than ten years Ten years or less Residence at age 16 South Border states Non-South Considers self a southerner Does not consider self a southerner Metropolitan residence Nonmetropolitan residence White Black Other Male Female Age 18-24 25-44 45-64 65 and older Education 1 1th grade or less High school graduate Some college College graduate Household income Under $20,000 $20,000-$40,000 $40,000-$60,000 $60,000 or more 28 9 19 4 8 16 7 7 18 5 11 21 13 23 6 15 13 8 15 16 13 21 14 17 7 20 13 13 11 17 40 29 42 48 30 33 48 28 48 37 28 34 19 59 32 36 43 37 29 24 25 40 30 35 29 37 34 32 South Polls 531 More than once a week Never Church attendance Never Less than once a week Once a week More than once a week 11 16 12 13 41 34 34 28 While we're at it, who are these grits-eating nonsoutherners? Mostly, they're either black or migrants from the South. (Notice that southern-born nonsoutherners are unlikely to eat grits "never"—no more likely, in fact, than resident southerners.) But even more than in the South, the age gradient bodes ill for the future. Among southern respondents, % who eat grits More than once a week Never White1 Black28 Other3 (Note: Education, income, and metro/nonmetro differences reflect this.) Ever lived in South Yes No Residence at age 16 South Border states Non-South Age 18-24 25-44 45-64 65 and older 2 2 2 3 62 32 70 41 69 32 70 63 86 63 50 56 —John Shelton Reed ...