An evening or afternoon at the Corn Crib can be a fun family activity. Bring your family- old and young out to see the Normal CornBelters presented by Illinois corn farmers. Manager Brooks Carey has an exciting team evidenced by the CornBelters having the most players to play in the Frontier League All-Star Game this week.

Carey was asked by Phil Warren, the manager of the Gateway Grizzlies and the coach of the West Division All-Star team, to join the coaching staff for the All-Star Game.

The Cornbelters have seven players in the All-Star Game, and they are: Cullen Babin, Santaigo Chirino, Aaron Dudley, Sam Judah, Alan Oaks, Mike Schwartz and Tyler Shover

If you have not checked out a CornBelters game in a while we invite you to com out, it’s a lot of fun, and you can teach your family about the Illinois farmers– a vital part of our community. Check out NormalBaseball.com for information on buying tickets to the games.

1. Open Your Horizons about Corn

Did you know the Illinois Corn Growers Association maintains a high profile in the legislative arena in Springfield, Ill. and Washington, DC? Some of Illinois Corn’s efforts include distribution of educational materials such as the Captain Cornelius comic books, grocery store and service station promotions, educational exhibits at state and county fair, working with the media on issues like ethanol.

corn hop scotch

2. Meet a Farmer

Your food does not just magically appear at the grocery store, and that corn-on-the cob– a staple at family barbecues in the summer is no exception. There is a farmer behind that cob of corn. Of course, we all know that corn you eat on the cob isn’t the same corn that goes into ethanol and livestock feed. Either way, there is a farm family attached to that farmer. They live in our community and support our community, and they attend Normal CornBelters baseball games, just like you do. They know you care about how your food is raised because they are families who care about the same food they grow and eat themselves.  To find out more you can check out: www.watchusgrow.org and get answer to your questions.

3. There are other farmers besides Corn Farmers: Find out more about locally grown beef or pork.

The Normal CornBelters hold Beef Night and Pork Night. Drop by the Corn Crib and meet a livestock farmer. Did you know that livestock animals are the biggest users (via their feed) of corn in the country?

4. Get Your Kids Involved

The Normal CornBelters have a mascot to get the kids involved. Corny is an ear of corn (he is a little bit hard of hearing because he’s only one ear– yuck yuck, ok that was corny). Corny would love to attend your upcoming event including birthday parties, classroom visits and various community events.

Also along those lines, the CornBelters players are also available for events throughout the year.  Dates are filling up so be sure to book your CornBelters appearances today. You would be surprised at how affordable it is and how much it can liven up your events.

For more information: http://www.normalbaseball.com/community/appearance-request

5. How Illinois Farmers Affect Our Lives – From http://www.agr.state.il.us/about/agfacts.html

What agricultural goods are produced in Illinois?

Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. The state’s climate and varied soil types enable farmers to grow and raise many other agricultural commodities, including cattle, wheat, oats, sorghum, hay, sheep, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Illinois also produces several specialty crops, such as buckwheat, horseradish, ostriches, fish and Christmas trees.

What are the characteristics of a typical Illinois farm?

Illinois’ 76,000 farms cover more than 28 million acres — nearly 80 percent of the state’s total land area. The large number of farms, coupled with the diversity of commodities produced, makes it difficult to describe a typical operation. However, statistics provide some indication about what it means to farm in Illinois.

The average size of an Illinois farm including hobby farms is 368 acres. Most farm acreage is devoted to grain, mainly corn and soybeans. Nearly 10 percent of Illinois farms have swine. Beef cows are found on about 23 percent of farms, while about 3 percent have dairy cows. Some farms produce specialty crops and livestock, including alfalfa, canola, nursery products, emus and fish. Many farming operations also support recreational activities such as hunting and fishing.

How does agriculture benefit Illinois’ economy?

Marketing of Illinois’ agricultural commodities generates more than $9 billion annually. Corn accounts for nearly 40 percent of that total. Marketing of soybeans contributes about one-third, with the combined marketings of livestock, dairy and poultry generating about 23 percent.

Billions more dollars flow into the state’s economy from ag-related industries, such as farm machinery manufacturing, agricultural real estate, and production and sale of value-added food products. Rural Illinois benefits principally from agricultural production, while agricultural processing and manufacturing strengthen urban economies.

Mike Rains

Community Public Relations Manager, Normal CornBelters


Pack your picnic basket, it’s a beautiful summer to enjoy a meal outdoors with your friends and family! Here are a few items you don’t want to forget to bring with you to the picnic.

1) Sweet cornsweet corn

As sweet corn just came into season it’s extremely fresh and very delicious. Sweet corn is also nutritious as it is cholesterol free and a great source of vitamin C and A, potassium, thiamine, fiber, and antioxidants.

cherry tomato2) Cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden

There’s no better healthy snack than chilled, mouthwatering, sweet cherry tomatoes on a hot summer day. Try adding sweet tomatoes to your cottage cheese too… you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well they go together!

3) A tasty bottle of wine from your local vineyard

Are you going to bring a white or red wine is the real question?  The nearest vineyard to us here in Bloomington, IL is the White Oak Vineyard in Carlock, IL.  Visit their website for more information: http://www.whiteoakvineyardsinc.com/white oak vineyard


ropp cheese4) Cheese curds from the Ropp Jersey Cheese Farm in Normal, IL

Try one of their award winning flavored cheeses:

  • Chili Cheddar
  • Morel Mushroom Cheddar
  • Bacon, Garlic, Horseradish Cheddar
  • Hot Habanero Cheddar
  • Natural White Cheddar Cheese Curds
  • Onion and Herb Cheddar Cheese Curds

beer nuts5) BEER NUTS

These are a must try tasty treat. BEER NUTS are made fresh in Bloomington, IL. They are shipped nationwide to all fifty states as well as several foreign countries. Be sure to stop by one of their two BEER NUTS Company Stores in Bloomington, IL for the freshest taste of America’s tastiest nuts.

6) Any of your favorite fruits and vegetables from your local farm standbuy fresh

Buying local provides you with freshly picked, locally grown produce. It also helps support your local community! Here in Bloomington, IL we have Browns Fresh Produce where they hand-pick fresh each morning. This provides the “absolute freshest, best tasting produce anywhere.” At Browns Fresh Produce they grow over 25 different vegetables as well as many different fruits such as: cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, and apples. They also sell dairy and eggs.

ElizabethElizabeth O’Reilly
IL Corn summer intern


Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware that farmers and ag businesses alike have begun to have more conversations with some of our more urban consumers who have questions about the food we are putting on their tables. This is somewhat of a new concept for our industry, but it presents us with an opportunity to speak to a genuinely interested audience about what we do and why we do it. Most (if not all) of the people who work in the agriculture industry are incredibly proud of what they do, so it is no surprise that many farmers seize the opportunity to teach people about the different things that happen on their farm.

One way those interested urban consumers have been able to learn about their food is through the Illinois Farm Families program. This program, which is funded in part by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, allows moms from the Chicago area (Field Moms) to go on various farm tours to experience farming first hand and have a conversation about their food with the people who are actually growing it. Paul Jeschke, the ICMB District 5 director, and his wife Donna have welcomed multiple groups of Field Moms onto their farm for a tour and discussions about the crops they grow on their farm. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of what it is Paul and Donna are doing to help spread the word about agriculture:

If you are interested in learning more about the Illinois Farm Families program, visit www.watchusgrow.org

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant

Summer Travelers Face High Gas Prices

With summer time travel in full gear you may have noticed that when you pull up to the pump the price is continuously going up. Nationally, gas prices are at a six-year high for this time of year. It is estimated that nearly 35 million drivers hit the road this past Fourth of July holiday weekend. Last week, the July 1st United States average price for a gallon of unleaded, regular gas was $3.67.

As gas prices are going to continue increasing, finding the nearest pump that offers ethanol blends is going to be crucial in saving you money. Consumers can find ethanol blends at many gas stations in the state and nationwide. Ethanol fuel prices are reasonably lower than traditional gas prices as currently the price of wholesale ethanol is one dollar cheaper than wholesale gasoline, thus saving consumers of ethanol a good amount of money at the pump.

Ethanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources; mostly corn. The current corn prices are significantly low which allows for ethanol blends to be cheaper than regular, unleaded gasoline.

Aside from ethanol being cheaper than regular gasoline it also provides other benefits such as:
• Reduces harmful vehicle emissions
• Burns cleaner than regular/traditional fuels
• Better for the environment
• Increases vehicle engine performance with higher octane
• Reduces overall costs of transportation fuels
• Locally grown fuel
• Investing in the local and Illinois Economy
• Renewable fuel
Don’t believe it? Check out this video to learn more about the breakdown of Illinois gas prices!

ElizabethElizabeth O’Reilly
ICMB Communications Intern


Was there a real man named Uncle Sam?  Has it always been a fictitious persona for our great nation of states?  Could the nickname possibly have anything to do with agriculture?


1860-first-uncle-samIt just makes sense that the image of the U.S., “Uncle Sam” would have his origination in agriculture because at the time of his birth, agriculture was the main industry of the U.S.  In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam and the USDA reports that 58 percent of the labor force were farmers.  Many more were employed in the industry off the farm.

Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today.  And as the image evolved, farmers were already beginning to move off the farm.  By 1880, 10 percent of the population has found other employment.

UnclesamwantyouThe real person behind “Uncle Sam” is Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812.  He would stamp the barrels with “U.S.” which stood for United States, but employers and soldiers began calling the food “Uncle Sam’s.”

And the rest is history!

Checkout images of Uncle Sam from every decade here!



Summertime is definitely upon us! And what is one of the most wonderful things about summers in Illinois? Fresh strawberries! Whether you are able to go to a local strawberry patch or pick some up at your local grocery store, strawberries are always of far better quality during the summer.

To celebrate strawberries (and America, of course), here is an easy but DELICIOUS recipe for you to try out this weekend! I hope you all have a fun and safe holiday!

Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake



  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced


  1. Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.
  2. Frost cake with whipped topping. Place blueberries in a square in the corner, and arrange sliced strawberries as stripes to make an American flag. Chill until serving.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Red-White-and-Blue-Strawberry-Shortcake/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant