Isn’t this the most perfect setting? Serene, beautiful, quaint, heavenly, Iowa.
This city girl spent last Tuesday-Thursday in the good ‘ol country. Smack-dab in Des Moines, Iowa. I attended Farmers Feed US Iowa CornQuest 2012 which is a tour sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association that gives a small group of food bloggers a firsthand look at how corn is used in foods and products we use every day. My name was recommended by a sweet friend & food blogger, Carrian, and an invitation was extended out to me. I was seriously so excited. I have never been to the Midwest before and only knew of the Midwest as a “bunch of open land.” I knew there was more than that but you know how stereotypes go.
In fact, Jason Aldean has a song called “Fly Over States” that sums up the stereotype so well. We all think of the Midwest as fly over states, the “middle of nowhere,” and just a bunch of square cornfields & wheat fields that all look the same and nothing else. Truth is, those square cornfields and massive farmland is where we get a lot of our daily food. It’s where the farmers have plowed, planted, and harvested our food.
This trip was an amazing and unforgettable experience. It was an eye-opener and really made me think things I’ve never thought of before. How many of you, when you sit down to eat, think about where your food came from? What about all the hardwork that was put into getting that food onto your plate? Not just the cooking process, the process of getting it from land to grocery stores to your hands. After this trip, it has made me appreciate farmers so much more. My father in-law grew up on a dairy farm and my grandfather in-lawowned (and still does) a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, but the last time I went, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. I didn’t realize the labor of love that went into getting us consumers the food we need to survive.
Spending a day on the farm was definitely a breath of fresh air for me. There’s so much work involved and I feel like farmers don’t get enough appreciation for all their hard work. They are the heart of America. We definitely take it all for granted. Next time you meet or see a farmer. Thank them.
Disclaimer: I’m not being compensated for anything written in this post. It comes from my heart and what I truly feel after going on this trip.
We spent the day on Bill Couser’s farm learning and breathing everything about corn, soybeans, and the management of his farm. He’s a fourth-generation farmer who basically developed an ingenious way to make his operation run more efficiently while keeping the cost of production down. He developed a field-based manure management processor known as the Alternative Technology, or AT, system. It got approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources!
Pictured above, those are Bill’s different types of feeds that he feeds his cattle. He uses all those different ingredients to formulate the best feed for his herds. He actually cares about what they eat and just don’t feed them whatever off their land. Healthy and happy cattle means better products for you!
Then we got to have some fun riding in a combine! The corn was already harvested so we were harvesting soybeans. There is so much technology inside one of these combines. It’s so cool!!
We then all went and got our need for speed fulfilled at the Iowa Speedway. We learned about ethanol production here. Did you know that there’s at least 10% of ethanol in the fuel you use today? The speedway hosts the Iowa Corn Indy 250 where the cars are powered by 100% corn-based ethanol! We each got our turn to go around the track a few times. Talk about pinned to the seat. The second my guy took off from the pit, I flew back in my seat! This was so much fun :)
On the last day, we got a food blogger’s dream tour. We toured Meredith Corporation – the home of Better Homes and Garden!!! We visited their multiple test kitchens, their GIGANTIC prop room (seriously, I’m now convincing Jason to let us do this to our basement – I mean, clearly it’s mandatory), we even got to see three different shoots going on. One was for a bedroom scene, one a dessert shoot for their diabetes magazine, and the other one was a “how to use a mandolin” shoot. We also got to tour their garden. Um, let’s just say, I wish their gardener could come do my herbs and flowers.
We worked up an appetite on that tour so afterwards, we went over to HyVee, a local supermarket, and went to their “club level” and had a cooking class where we all split up into teams and cooked a different dish! So delicious!!
Overall, this trip was more than anything I could’ve asked for. I fell in love with the beautiful state of Iowa, met the most amazing group of women whom now I’m thrilled to keep in touch with. I loved how welcoming the farmers were and how proud they were of everything they worked so hard for. Big thanks to Iowa Corn and Farmers Feed US for this unforgettable trip! Thank you to Roxi and Hana for putting together the events and never stopping the fun (oh, and for taking care of sick little me). Thank you to all the farmers and everyone else that let us food bloggers invade their quiet town :)