CornQuest 2012


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 :)


Posted on October 02, 2012

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  1. 10/02/2012 at 10:19 am

    This seriously looks like a great informative and fun event. Loving that kitchen/prop room!!!

  2. 10/02/2012 at 10:24 am

    wow that prop room looks incredible! I need that at my house!

  3. 10/02/2012 at 10:25 am

    What a fun trip! I’m so thankful I got to spend a few days with you all! Wish we had more time to chat! Hope you got some great ideas at BHG for your wedding registry. :)

  4. 10/02/2012 at 10:27 am

    Cool! I especially love that you titled this post CORNQUEST. <3

  5. 10/02/2012 at 10:29 am

    Julie, I am so glad that you could make it. This was such a great post! In fact, I may need to grab some of those group shots from ya, since I didn’t hand my camera over. ;)
    Seriously, I’m so glad you came. I look forward to seeing you again!

  6. Roxi Beck
    10/02/2012 at 10:32 am

    It was a pleasure having you with us on the CornQuest, Julie! Hope you are back to feeling 100% and looking forward to staying in touch!

  7. 10/02/2012 at 10:32 am

    This was such a fun post to read for me, as I am from Iowa and have lived here my whole life. I love when people come to visit and realize we aren’t just a dot on the map and really do live a great life here:) I had an internship at Meredith shortly after I got married and if we hadn’t of moved, I wished I still worked there! Such a great company.

    I would love to be involved in this food blogger tour next year…any chance of that?

    • 10/02/2012 at 8:50 pm

      Hey Ally – I can pass your name along to the organizers of the event and maybe they’ll put you on a list or something.

  8. 10/02/2012 at 10:32 am

    WHAT A FUN TRIP!! :)

  9. 10/02/2012 at 10:40 am

    Oh my gosh, your trip looked like so much fun when I’d catch glimpses on Instragram–lucky duck! It’s amazing to think about the fact that tons of people work super hard to bring us food every day, and that’s totally awesome! Plus, being from California, agriculture is EVERYWHERE. They literally grow mandarins sold nationwide just down the street. It’s awesome! Glad you had a fun trip! :)

  10. 10/02/2012 at 10:42 am

    What a great trip, I loved following along on twitter/instagram with you all!

  11. 10/02/2012 at 10:46 am

    I’m so glad companies are getting the REAL story of farming out there! Obviously, I work in ag so I have my own opinions, but I am so tired of the villainizing of farmers and food politics. It’s time people see what actually goes on when we’re feeding the world!

    Ok, stepping off my soap box now!

    Sorry, got a little excited.
    That Jason Aldean song brings tears to my eyes, seriously. Last time I heard it, we were harvesting in a combine at night with the moon overhead and he said “harvest moon of Kansas” and I died. Ahhhh, life is so dang good :)


  12. 10/02/2012 at 10:56 am

    Great post and glad you enjoyed the trip! My Grandpa was a wheat farmer in Western Kansas and this brings back good memories of going out to the farm to ‘help’ during harvest growing up.

  13. 10/02/2012 at 11:26 am

    As a farmers’ market vendor, I’ve always been appreciative of where our food comes from. No farms no food! Wish I could have been there with you.

  14. 10/02/2012 at 12:37 pm

    It really looked like a great trip!! I would love to see that prop room! I think we all need one of those ;)

  15. 10/02/2012 at 12:39 pm

    Wow – this is such a fun trip, and you got a chance to visit Iowa Speedway and Better Homes and Garden. That’s so cool! I wish I can join this one of these days – must be awesome!

  16. 10/02/2012 at 12:46 pm

    OMG that looks like so much fun.

    Those combine shots look incredible.

    I would have loved to have gone to the race track. sooo much fun

  17. 10/02/2012 at 2:02 pm

    What FUN! You all look so cute, too!

  18. 10/02/2012 at 2:18 pm

    What an amazing opportunity you had with this trip. And how cool is it that a fellow friend blogger thought of you to go on it. That is what makes food bloggers the best! I am happy you got appreciate the land and food as you did. You should totally go back to PA to see the farm again, that would be cool.

  19. 10/02/2012 at 2:31 pm

    What an amazing post and life experience, Julie! (your first shot of that corn field – GORG!!!!!). I’m so glad that you had such a wonderful time in Iowa – didn’t you want to just camp out in that BHG prop room?? :)

  20. Looks like a great time! That prop room looks amazing…I would have been in heaven in there!!

  21. 10/02/2012 at 7:22 pm

    I love checking out your instagrams while I was in Napa, looked like so much fun :)

  22. 10/02/2012 at 8:35 pm

    Sounds like such a wonderful trip! I loved following your pics through instagram, too. So fun!

  23. 10/02/2012 at 8:38 pm

    It looks as if you had a fabulous time! My dream is to one day work in a test kitchen for a magazine. I’m so jealous you got to tour one. How fun!

  24. 10/03/2012 at 12:06 am

    I had fun catching up on this event via Instagram :)

  25. 10/03/2012 at 1:10 am

    What a fun trip! I loved following you through the trip via Instagram. And btw, your L&S bag is super cute.

  26. Dawn
    10/03/2012 at 10:00 am


    I love your blog and this has been my favorite post by you so far! Thank you for sharing it with us out here in blog land! I am from the Mid-West and really appreciate your take on the Iowa trip! Keep up the great job!

    • 10/03/2012 at 10:24 am

      Aw thank you for being a loyal reader, Dawn!! :)

  27. 10/03/2012 at 4:44 pm

    Sounds like you had such a great time- cant believe it was your first visit to the Midwest!!!

  28. Karla Kammerer Shedd
    10/03/2012 at 8:50 pm

    Julie – I don’t know if I should thank you or not for letting our secret out of the bag! Iowa is a great place and those us that live here wouldn’t trade it for anything. Iowa really isn’t the stereotypical, overall wearing, corn pipe smoking, tractor driving place everyone believes it to be and we love our farmers!

  29. 10/04/2012 at 11:22 am

    Just re-read this and realized I forgot to comment — LOVE this Julie! And I love that picture of the cornfields!!!

    Really, was so glad that you were there and we got to spend some time together. Can’t wait to see you again soon! :)

  30. 10/04/2012 at 4:43 pm

    Gorgeous photos and a wonderful recap. It was great to meet and I hope we get to cross paths again soon. Hope you’re feeling better!

  31. 10/05/2012 at 10:01 am

    That sounds like a great experience, other than the being sick part. I’ve never even been in the Midwest but have to admit that I kind of thought of it as a bunch of farms. :( You gave me something to think about. Thanks!

  32. Linda
    10/09/2012 at 8:59 am

    We’re transplants from Upstate New York/Portland Oregon to Des Moines, best move we made 25 years ago. Great place to live and to raise kids. Glad you enjoyed our little piece of heaven.

  33. 10/11/2012 at 12:09 pm

    I love all of the round ups, looks like ya’ll had a kickin’ time in Iowa!

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