WARM CHIPOTLE MAPLE CORN & ASPARAGUS SALAD

Easter is coming up, and you are no doubt planning your menu.  Don’t forget to add the corn!!!

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Yes, you’ll hear no disagreement from your family when you add this to the Easter buffet.  But remember, the sweet corn in this recipe is wholly different from the field corn Illinois farmers are famous for growing!!

Sweet corn is bred for an increased sugar content and harvested in the summer.  Field corn is harvested in the fall and allowed to dry down, to be later ground for corn flour, fed to livestock, or used to fuel your vehicles.

To learn more about the difference between sweet corn and field corn, click here.

And make this salad THIS WEEK!

Warm Chipotle Maple Corn and Asparagus Spring Salad
makes about 4 servings

2 ears fresh corn, kernels shaved off
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into one inch strips
3/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard (combined)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped nuts, mixed (roasted salted)
optional: 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast – thickens and adds a rich savory flavor
optional: 2 Tbsp raisins

2 tsp oil for saute (I used safflower)

Directions:

1. Add oil to saute pan over high heat.
2. Add in the asparagus. Cover with lid and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
3. Lift lid and add in the corn, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, pepper and salt. Cover with lid again and shake pan to disperse steam and oil.
4. Add in the apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard mixture. Allow to continue to cook – now uncovered until the liquid has absorbed into the veggies – or steamed off.
5. Toss the nuts in the maple syrup and remaining chipotle powder and then add them to the hot pan. If adding raisins, add them now as well. Toss with the veggies and cook for a minute or so.
6. Do a taste test and make sure the veggies are well seasoned and cooked to a tender state. Try not to over cook.
7. Remove from heat and toss with optional nutritional yeast. Plate and serve.

Read more from Kathy on her blog, Healthy. Happy. Life!

OF COURSE CONSUMERS HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW …

Foods should be labeled.  Customers have a right to know what they are eating.  Yes.

But what happens when the labels customers demand don’t make purchasing decisions easier?  What happens when what you think you want actually backfires and makes everything harder?

Farmers and the food industry are not trying to hide ingredients from you.  We support your right to know information about your food.  But we also support your right to understand information about your food, for labels to make sense and be based on scientific information.  We support affordable food for all, and not drastic price increases for the folks that didn’t care about labeling to begin with.

It’s all about balance.

So IL Corn supports the Coalition for Safe, Affordable Food, a group pursuing a very common sense approach to your desire to know more about your food.

We already have a model for this: the USDA’s Certified Organic label.  What if there were also a Certified GMO Free label?  Something clearly defined and policed that would tell you exactly which foods were GMO Free so you could buy food you felt comfortable with.

And you would be the only one paying the premium for that food, not the lower income or food stamp program families that need to simply buy fruits and veggies no matter their production methods.

To us, this makes sense.  And that’s why we’re supporting the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 which sets up a Certified GMO Free label just like the Certified Organic label.  A label that actually DOES tell you something about your food and is easy to understand.

You know what else this bill does?  It prevents state by state labeling laws that make interstate commerce nearly impossible.

And it defines the term “natural” so that when you see “natural” advertised on something you’re considering buying, you can really understand what that means.

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Consumers definitely have a right to know.  And we want them to know AND UNDERSTAND what is in their food.

This is a good bill and a great effort to make food labels more clear, meaningful, and easy to understand.  IL Corn is proud to support this effort.

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT FARMING TODAY? TECHNOLOGY!

This video shares just the tiniest glimpse into the technology today’s farmers use on a daily basis. Gone are the days of farmers who knew little beyond how to put a seed in the ground and watch it grow. Today’s farmers are using massive machinery, complex computers, and mind-blowing genetics to grow crops more efficiently and with less environmental impact.

It’s amazing!

Read more at www.watchusgrow.org!

SOMETIMES IT’S HARD TO BE A FARMER’S DAUGHTER

1. Everyone that you talk to thinks that you’ve never seen a Starbucks and you only eat what you grow.

Contrary to popular belief, farmers are pretty much exactly like you.  We may not have a Starbucks on every corner, but there’s definitely one in the next town.  And we shop at Walmart, Kroger, Schnucks, or Hy-Vee just like you.

In college, I had someone ask me once if I had food flown in to our house via helicopter.

Uh, no.

2. Everyone thinks that your wardrobe consists exclusively of overalls, Carhartt, and maybe cowboy boots and skimpy dresses like they see on CMT.

Fact: farmers shop at the same stores that you do.  The farm women I know show up looking like a million bucks with their knee-high boots and cute infinity scarves.

Farm girls DO have two complete wardrobes though.  While I have rarely seen a country girl in overalls, there’s no way she’s wearing her nice boots out in the field.  She’s got work clothes and dress clothes, but she won’t look like a country bumpkin when she heads to town.

I bet you couldn’t even pick out the farm women in a crowd in Chicago!

3. Everyone assumes you must grow a small plot of vegetables because you’re too sweet to be one of THOSE farmers.

Today, the socially acceptable sort of farmer to be is the small, farmers market or road side stand sort of farmer.  But I didn’t grow up on a farm like that.

I’m trustworthy, very normal, and excited to advocate for farmers.  And I’d argue that there aren’t really THESE farmers and THOSE farmers.  There are just farmers.  Some are big, some are small.  Some are conventional and some are organic.  Almost all are family owned and almost all are farmers you could feel comfortable buying from.

I did grow up on one of THOSE farms.  And I’m proud of it.

4. Everyone wants to come and visit.

Perhaps the best part of being a farmer’s daughter is that everyone wants to see a farm first hand and its exciting to be a part of their excitement.

There is nothing quite like a farm on a clear night.  City folks have never seen that many stars.  There is nothing so awe inspiring as the sight of all those acres of land that my dad farms and cares for every single day.  To be given the task to steward God’s land is an amazing blessing.

How exciting is it to share this with the world?

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FARMERS WITH FEET ON THE HILL

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A quick visit to Washington, DC this week for these farmers, a visit that included lobbying for a national GMO labeling bill, advocating for Congress NOT to open up the Farm Bill, and asking for funding for pre engineering funds for locks and dams.

Coincidentally, we were there for Aaron Schock’s announcement that he’s resigning from Congress!

In this photo, Congressman Rodney Davis gave us a moment of his time.

DAILY LIFE OF AN AGRICULTURE COLLEGE STUDENT

Ag TeacherI’ve always have wanted to tell someone what a typical day in the life of a college student is… especially an agriculture student. I find that I and other agriculture students have a different outlook on life than the typical college student would if they were from another department on campus.

For example, a typical day starts off when I walk into the classroom at 8 a.m. knowing if I don’t attend, the professor will jokingly say something to me during the next class to remind not be a “skipper” again. After that happens, we then learn the ins and outs of how our major will impact 9 billion people by 2050 and it is our job to make a difference.
Whether it is the ag student sitting to the right of me building the cutting-edge combine, or the student to the left finding ways to be more efficient with milk production on his small dairy farm, we are all taught we have a profession that will impact lots of people in the future.

As class ends, we stroll out to the lounge where students are sipping on their morning cup of joe, studying, and catching up on the latest department news. There is normally a student chatting with another at the main table in the foyer trying to convince them to buy a ticket.

In today’s case it happens to be for the Sigma Alpha Professional Women’s Sorority Agriculture Basket Auction. My friends and I find ourselves buying these tickets…I don’t mind because they go to a great cause and help our department become better!

We all stand in the hallway having conversations about who’s going home for the weekend to work at their farm or staying to watch the Mr. Agriculture event happening that night. We talk about the candidates who will be doing dances and educational activities in order to be called Mr. Agriculture of the department for the year.Zeta Alpha

After chatting with other students, the procession begins to our soil conservation and animal science class. The afternoon comes to a close when my friends and I pile into the car and head to the Bowman Auditorium for the Mr. Agriculture event Mr Ag Winnerput on by Alpha Zeta Fraternity in the agriculture department. We watch friends be
escorts, handing out pamphlets, and laughing as the candidates/classmates get on stage to strut their stuff. The winner is announced and the students go crazy over Mr. Agriculture in the department.

This is only a small taste of what a day in the life of an agriculture student is like.
Student becomes expert, friends become family, and agriculture becomes our life. … and it happens on a daily basis for an agriculture college student. Life is good!

 

THEAThea Fruhling
Illinois State University

EYES WIDE OPEN

“Do you want to understand what the label on your food really means? You’re not alone. Visiting a local farm can really give you some insight on how your food gets from farm to table.” 

This article originally posted here, on WatchUsGrow.org by Illinois Farm Families.

I’m a millennial mom, one of 9 million other moms born between 1978-1994 who have been widely covered in research and, therefore, genius marketing ploys. I’ve seen and been a part of a plethora of market research that has tried to convince me of one thing or another when it comes to our food and nutrition choices. But, also characteristic of millennials, I’m voraciously independent and committed to getting my own facts.

Enter “City Mom” and “Illinois Farm Families.” IFF has invited moms from the Chicagoland area to visit a variety of farms for a behind-the-scene look at how our food is grown. I first heard about this unique opportunity from a good friend and “City Mom” alumnae, who suggested I apply when I was complaining about all the new trends, advice, research, and information that always seems to come my way.

As a mom of four small, energetic, adorable, crazy and exhausting children, it’s hard to know what is right and who to believe when it comes to food choices. There is the dreaded “mom guilt,” the crazy documentaries on Netflix, and let’s not forget that my computer seems to magically pop-up with advertisements from my most recent Google search. I often find myself questioning the motives and people around me. “City Moms” is a perfect way for me to have a first hand experience with those who grow and provide my family with food.

When I was one of the lucky moms selected to be a part of this program, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for the tours to begin. I planned on asking the hard questions and showing how informed and concerned I am about what they are doing to our food. I must admit that my view on Illinois farms was a perspective of “big, bad, corporate, Monsanto-run farms.” And I’ll also admit I wasn’t sure the farmers would like my protective momma bear approach. Regardless, I was a mom on a mission – a mission to go in and see for myself.

Our first tour was at a local Mariano’s grocery store where we learned how they source their produce, meat, and seafood. We had a chance to meet some of the farmers, ask some difficult questions to a registered nutritionist, and spend some time talking with other moms. We all had lots questions about the food we buy and what we put on the table for our families. Jodi, the registered dietitian, offered a lot of insight on food labels and opened my eyes to marketing ploys and all the advertisement that goes into it. Don’t worry; I’ll fill you in on those in my next post.

All in all, I left with a few new and different thoughts that were quite unexpected:

1. 97% of Illinois farms are FAMILY run farms. Yes, read that again: Family run farms. They are not corporate EVIL factory farms contrary to what the media and Facebook posts have led me to believe. They are families like my own: families trying to make a living, families working hard, families who have been portrayed in such a negative way. Their story is not like the documentaries on Netflix. They are normal, and normal does not make for good TV.

2. As I drove home, it occurred to me that the farmers and their families are no different than I am. They are normal moms just like me. Moms who want to make good decisions and choices for their kids and grandkids. They are motivated and just as concerned as I am about putting nutritious and healthy food on the table. Sure some farms have the title of being a “corporation,” but it’s for tax purposes like my brother-in-law and his small business. They are still a family run farm that is working hard to provide.

In all honesty, while I can say I’ve now met some local farmers, I still have not yet been on an actual Illinois family farm. I also still have a lot of questions and concerns, but I do feel like my eyes have been opened to a new side of things, and a perspective I’m excited to see in person. I’m excited to go with in with my eyes wide open.

THE NEW KID ON THE FARM

“Where is the restroom?” I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask that question on my first day. My name is Hannah Zeller and I am the new Communications Assistant here at Illinois Corn.

I am a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications. Previously I worked in property management with The Snyder Companies in Bloomington, IL.

While my farm experiences are limited I have spent my whole life in rural America, living right here in the Corn Belt. Because of this, agriculture has always been an interest of mine. The Ag industry has been around since the beginning of time, and will continue to be a big part of the future. I like to think of this as job security.

I look forward to learning and expanding my knowledge of the industry. I hope to gain further knowledge on the types of products produced locally in Illinois and what those products are used for.

As well as gaining knowledge, I hope to network and build relationships with fellow Agriculture employees and enthusiast like myself.

I look forward to my opportunity here, and to become a new Corn Corps contributor.

Hannah ZellerHannah Zeller
Communications Assistant
IL Corn

JOBS AND CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE

Food, clothing, and shelter: the three most vital components of human life. Agriculture is the sole system that supports day-to-day living. It is safe to assume that a career in agriculture is a safe bet, but how does the new generation go about pursuing a career in this field? The “traditional” farmer is 57 years old (according to the USDA census) and standing on his front porch with overalls and a pitchfork. A professor at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has taken some time to provide pointers to college-aged students pursuing a career in agriculture.

Q: How are “traditional” careers in agriculture changing?

A: Like every industry, agriculture is becoming more technologically advanced. We need more computer wizzes and less tractor drivers.  It is important to have an idea of technology in every field. For example, it is good to know a little bit about genetics and some about precision agriculture. Agriculture is also becoming more international. Rather than America providing for America, we are competing with Brazil for exports and doing some trading along the way.

Q: What careers are available for students in agriculture?

A: Students that come from a farm have a better chance at getting involved in production agriculture [growing crops and livestock]. While we will always need farmers, the demand for out-of-the-box agriculture [related careers] is increasing. Things like aquaculture [the farming of fish, oysters, etc.] and organics are really popular right now. The niche markets are booming.

Q: How do students without an agriculture background get involved?

A: They meet people. They [students] start out in fashion and live with an agriculture student and by the next semester they have changed their major. Some, however, just become interested in the field and that’s what they decide to do.

Q: How do students with and agriculture backgrounds compare to students without?

A: While they do not differ much, people who grew up on a farm are not open-minded to new ways to accomplish a task. They do things the way dad did them and dad did them the way grandpa did them. It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it sacrifices efficiency.

Q: What will be a future trend for students pursuing a career in agriculture?

A: Less connection to production, more connection to the food. Suddenly, America seems to be more concerned about the safety of what they consume. It hasn’t ever been not safe, but now they are getting curious about hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified crops. We need more people willing to work with the retail side of the market. Connections with the consumers is becoming more important.

Q: Are there enough young people interested in agricultural careers?

A: Yes, as long as students understand that agriculture is not [limited to] farming. Its food, consumers, the environment, natural resources, and wildlife. It is much broader than what it used to be, and with good reason.

Alexialexis rothrocks Rothrock

Southern Illinois University