Even though outdoor grilling has become a year-round activity, there is still excitement in the air, not to mention amazing aromas, when summer officially arrives. Barbecuing becomes a celebrated event. It is, after all, more fun to sit outside with a cold drink while your dinner sizzles in the summer than it is on a cold Missouri winter day.

A plethora of foods can be grilled, from veggies to meats, even pizza. I’ve found it also makes clean up a little easier. Scrubbing pots and pans is never a welcome job. That aside, the most popular foods grilled in the U.S., according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, are, in order: burgers, steaks, hot dogs and chicken.

So, while the official start of summer and grilling season is a couple of weeks away, if you need a reason to go ahead and get started, consider May is National Beef Month, and begin at the top of the list with burgers.

Schweid & Sons, a family-owned ground beef purveyor, recently released its annual Burger Trends Report on the most popular burgers currently in restaurants. If you built a burger based on the survey, it might look something like this: an 8 oz. (uncooked weight) ground chuck patty cooked medium to medium-well on a brioche bun with American or cheddar cheese, bacon, ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce with a side of French fries. Some consider building the perfect burger an art form while others simply want a quick and easy dinner. Me? My burger would look a lot like the survey describes; keep it simple. But no matter how it’s dressed, the burger is perfection for those who love this food staple.

Even though it might not cross the minds of most when they’re grilling their charbroiled masterpieces, Missouri beef ranchers play a large part in our love of barbecue. Missouri currently ranks third in the nation in beef production, behind Texas and Nebraska. For years, our state has been in the top five. There are more than 94 million head of beef cattle raised by one million beef producers in the U.S. In Missouri there are 46,000 beef producers. So, whether you throw a burger or a steak on the grill this month to kick off the season, say thanks to Missouri ranchers by celebrating National Beef Month all year long.