A few weeks ago I had the privilege of traveling to Iowa for the Iowa Corn Growers Association to learn more about corn, where it comes from, who’s growing it, what they do with it and to do a little myth busting. I was so excited to get to hang out with, Kelley from Mountain Mama Cooks, Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes, Lisa from Snappy Gourmet, Tina from My Life as a Mrs. Carrie from Fields of Cake, Ali from Gimme Some Oven, Julie from Table for Two, Rebecca from Foodie with Family, and the lovely Shari from Eat, Live, Surf.
Ok, I was excited, but I was also sad about leaving my sweet family. I took P out on a mother-daughter date where we ate cookies, went shopping, and tried on silly hats for the camera. Then there’s little C. We spent an afternoon snuggling and reading 50,000 books. That night while I packed she told me she didn’t want me to go, she wanted me to “stay wif her”. Pretty much broke my heart. Thank goodness for a hubby that takes such fantastic care of them while I’m gone.
I arrived in Iowa, and let me tell you, it’s gorgeous. We relaxed a little (hello room service) and then started bright and early.
Breakfast was so much fun at the Machine Shed, and unbelievably filling. Just look at Ali (in the center) holding that knife. Doesn’t look so big until you see her hand right? We were able to sit down with a few local farmers and talk about their lives and a few facts about corn. Our “appetizer” was these cinnamon rolls. They were amazingly delicious and GINORMOUS. Don’t worry, the restaurant also served up cheesy hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, sausages and toast.
One thing that I heard over and over again was that this is all about family. Families pass on their farms to their children and hope and pray that it will be good to them and that they will do good with their farms. I loved listening to each of the farmers express a love for the environment, country, good ground and animals.
Sometimes, in fact a lot of times we forget that it’s farms that our country is founded on. The farmers, whether big or small are all trying to do the same thing, provide for their families and ours.
We headed out to Bill Couser’s farm and I couldn’t get enough of him. He has such a passion for farming and you cannot help but want to be out on a farm yourself. Bill talked about how he uses every bit of his land and crops to have a sustainable farm. Isn’t that awesome? He may run a bigger farm, but he still cares about how it is run and what he is providing to the world. Again, he cares. He isn’t a big corporation that just wants to make a buck. One of his sons even headed off to college and then to work for John Deer, but missed the farm life and decided to come back one day possibly take over for his Dad. Criticize all you want, farmers are darned hard workers and we wouldn’t be here without them. I love what Lisa from Snappy Gourmet says, “Some farmers have had to set themselves up as a “company” for tax-purposes and the vast majority of farms in the U.S. are family-owned and operated. According to the USDA about 96% of the over 2.2 million farms in the U.S. are family-owned and over 90% of these family farms have gross sales of under $250,000. I’d hardly call that big “corporate” farms.” So true.
So, Bill let us head out to the fields with his son, Tim to ride in the Combines. IT. WAS. AWESOME. First of all, good mercy they are huge! Plus, they are so cool. GPS is actually what’s steering these big loves. GPS folks. The person inside is helping to turn corners and control how much product is being grabbed.
We drove over to the Iowa Speedway where we learned that gasoline, no matter where you are, contains at least some ethanol which actually is saving you money and helps to clean out your tank. It was cool to hear them talk about the cars that run on 100% ethanol and where the hope the future will head. But, the best part? We got to take a fast, and crazy ride around the track. I was a little nervous I would get sick, but I actually wished we had gone faster! We hit about 115 and the racers usually go around 175-180!!
Dinner that night was awesome, and my favorite part was listening to one of the farmers that got a little tender hearted over the fact that one of his children will one day take over for him and how much that means to him.
The next morning came a tad too early, but we got to join Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University for breakfast. She is one smart cookie and I loved that she did not back down to one single question. She emphasized how much the media and people saturate our world with both good AND bad information. It’s time that we start doing our research about GMO, High Fructose corn syrup, and Corn Syrup. It doesn’t matter what you choose to believe as long as you are educated, reading peer reviewed journals and not forcing your thoughts on others. Everyone has the right to make their own decision and you never know, your opinion may not even be completely correct. I was personally surprised to hear that corn syrup is in fact broken down in the body the same as sugar. I had heard so much about how it isn’t.
Anyway, then we were off to Meredith Corporations where we got to tour Better Homes and Gardens. I believe every single one of us wished we had more time there. They have beautiful test kitchens, studio rooms, props rooms etc. Just check out this kitchen who’s backsplash moves aside to reveal spice cupboards! LOOOOVE!! Everyone works so hard at BHG and they really do take the time to test out all of their crafts and recipes multiple times to ensure that they can work out any bugs etc. In just one year they produce more than 5,900 recipes and more than 2,500 food images.
The trip truly was amazing and I must give a warm thank you (and miss you!) to Hana, Mindy, Roxi and Shannon. You ladies made the trip even better and pulled off such a successful event.
I sincerely treasure all of the new friendships that I made and I love that we all got sent home with corn recipes from each of our blogs… check them out.
Mexican Corn (Elote)-Sweet Basil-ME!
Blue Cheddar Cornbread-Shari-Tickled Red
Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins-Carrie-Field’s of Cake
Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Jalapeno Vinaigrette-Tina My life as a Mrs
Roasted Corn and Potato Chowder-Rebecca Foodie with Family
Crab Enchiladas with Bacon and Orange Sauce-Janelle Talk of Tomatoes
Summer Veggie Saute-Kelley Mountain Mama Cooks
BBQ Chicken Cornbread Pie-Julie Table for Two
Corn on the cob Cake Pops-Ali Gimme Some Oven
Mexican Sausage Cornbread Strata-Lisa Snappy Gourmet