So, it’s bunsen burner day … a day to celebrate the guy that invented the bunsen burner, Mr. Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen.

You could celebrate by dropping by the local high school and checking out their bunsen burner experiments or maybe by emailing your favorite science teacher a thank you.  But before you do, check out OUR little experiment that proves once and for all that ethanol burns significantly cleaner than gasoline.


cost of corn in products

The media would have you believe that when the cost of corn goes up, you can expect your food prices to skyrocket, but don’t believe everything you read.

The corn portion of most foods is a very small portion and when corn prices increase, it only yields a net increase of a few cents to your food. The larger contributor is transportation costs – so the cost of gasoline is a better indicator of when you might expect food prices to increase.

The price of corn is significantly low right now – almost at the point where farmers are losing money on every bushel they harvest – yet your food prices aren’t decreasing, are they?


Are you ready to trade in those boots that carried you across icy sidewalks for a pair of flip flops? Or are you ready to unhook the snow plow from your tractor and hook up a planter?  Where we live says a lot about who we are. If you travel city sidewalks, the first probably sounds pretty good. If you live on a farm, the second sounds more appropriate. We each have our own way of getting ready for spring, and our own springtime activities that have us itching for a day that makes it to 75 degrees. So, what IS the difference between spring in the city versus the country?

How do you prepare for spring? Spring cleaning probably comes to mind. The windows are open, and the feather duster comes out. Drawers and closets are organized, and the yard work begins. Everything smells fresh and new. However, if you take a highway out of town, the smell of Febreeze turns into plowed dirt and cut hay. There you will find the farmer getting ready for spring. Tractors are pulled out of the shed, the oil is changed, and things are swept out. A farmer has his/her own way of cleaning for spring.


When spring is finally here, what do you see? In the city, yards are groomed and tulips have bloomed. There is a blur of red, green, yellow, and pink as you drive past city blocks. Head back to the country, and you will see rows and rows and rows of green. The planting is done and the corn is up in perfect rows waiting on the next drop of rain.


Of course, we can’t talk about spring without mentioning Easter! Kids get all dressed up in frilly dresses or the perfect tie. They get their baskets out, and race past the others at the city’s egg hunt to grab the most eggs. In the country, folks do a little more than hunt eggs. They also hunt sheds. Each year, the whitetail deer sheds his antlers. They drop off scattered throughout the woods in late winter/early spring. When the snow is gone and springtime hits, people walk the woods searching for the antlers. They use their finds to judge the size of the deer in the area, and also turn them into the rustic home decor you see on Pinterest. The deer then grow the antler back, a bit bigger each year. Their rack is fully grown and hardened by fall.


What do you do in the spring for fun? Baseball and softball teams start practice, and families spend their evenings at the city ball field with popcorn in one hand and a coke in the other. Ball uniforms are clean and ready to see what the new season brings. In the country, people are waiting for the seasonal spring flood so they can go bow fishing. Creeks flood into fields and giant grass carp make their way into the shallow water to eat the green from the field. People can then wade out to the fish, and shoot into the water with a bow and a special reel that attaches fishing line to the arrow. If the arrow makes it through the fish, it can then be reeled in by the attachment that is on the bow.


While different people living in different places may have their own ways of getting into spring mode, one thing is for sure. It doesn’t matter where you are from, we are all ready for spring!

ChelseaCurtenChelsea Curten
Southern Illinois University Student
The Urban Adventures of a Country Girl


In honor of Popcorn Lover’s Day today, let’s talk popcorn! For many, popcorn is a delicious treat to enjoy during a movie. But recently, popcorn has been more than just the salty treat sold in movie theatres. Popcorn can also be enjoyed at parties or at the comfort of your own home for a late night snack! Popcorn is such a great snack because it satisfies and doesn’t spoil the appetite. Another benefit of eating popcorn is that compared to various other snack foods, popcorn is one of the healthiest and lowest in calories. Since popcorn is so simple to make, there are various ways that you can enjoy this salty and satisfying treat.  Popcorn is healthier than other salty treats, and is so versatile, what’s not to love?

CinnamonChocPopcornI personally enjoy the salty/sweet combinations. For those of you that also enjoy salty and sweet treats, I found a quick and easy recipe to make your plain popcorn a little more exciting. I came across a super helpful website called popcorn.org. Thanks to this website, I now found my favorite salty and sweet treat, cinnamon chocolate popcorn. The saltiness of the popcorn, combined with a hint of chocolate and cinnamon is the perfect combination. All you need is three quarts of popped popcorn, butter-flavored cooking spray, nine tablespoons of powdered cocoa mix, and three teaspoons of cinnamon. Put popcorn in a large bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray, sprinkle cocoa mix and cinnamon on popcorn, and enjoy!

So you are at the movies and want popcorn, but you want to try some different flavors. Although, regular movie popcorn has a great taste, sometimes popcorn needs some extra flavoring. Something that I started doing is bringing kernel seasoning with me to the movies. While some movie theatres do provide popcorn seasoning available for purchase, it can’t be guaranteed which seasonings are available. The containers are very small so it is easy to pack. The two flavors that I recommend are the ranch and white cheddar. But there are so many other delicious sounding flavors such as, nacho cheddar, cheesy jalapeno, buffalo, and Cajun. This popcorn seasoning, takes popcorn to a whole new level. Try my movie theatre popcorn secret, and find out what seasoning you like best. Popcorn can be so versatile; with these quick and easy ways for creating the most perfect popcorn choice for you popcorn will never be the same:


SamarSamar Dababneh
Illinois State University Student


What’s next? Will high health insurance prices be blamed on ethanol?

What about your kids’ grades in school? Is that ethanol’s fault, too?

Yes, these examples are definitely a bit of a stretch, but seriously. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear it.

A recent example of “it’s ethanol’s fault” was when Trilby Lundberg reported that ethanol is causing gas prices to rise because there is unrest in Ukraine and Ukraine grows corn and the U.S. ethanol supply is primarily produced from corn and so ethanol is more expensive so gas is more expensive. Run on sentence? Definitely. But that’s the point. It’s like a game of 6 degrees of separation. In a desperate bid to be relevant to the news of the day, ethanol comes up in the same news headline as Ukrainian unrest.

It’s exhausting.

Want to know the real story? Jump on over to this blog at A Farm Girl’s Guide to Agriculture. Gracie does a good job debunking this myth. It’s busted.

As Gracie wrote, “…the United States is a huge exporter of corn. According to the U.S. Grains Council, the United States supplies 50% of the exported corn supply while the Ukraine provides a mere 5.5%. In addition, the United States will import zero bushels of corn in 2014. That’s right- nothing.

The petroleum industry is blaming this rise in gas prices on the ethanol industry. Because the national average for gasoline is $3.51 (as of 3/10/14)- which is the highest it’s been since September- it’s automatically ethanol’s fault. Probably because they want to increase the ethanol blend in regular gasoline from 10% to 15% [insert sarcasm here].

Guess what? Ethanol actually LOWERS gasoline prices! If you were to buy ethanol (85% blend) at retail, it’s about $2.89/gallon in central Illinois (as of 3/10/14). That’s compared to the $3.48/gallon gasoline at the same gas station this morning. So yes, ethanol is definitely causing higher gasoline prices [insert more sarcasm here].”

Tricia Braid
Illinois Corn Communications Director