#TBT: HOW TO FEED A FARMER

[Originally posted: September 22, 2015]

Harvest has just begun at my house! For our family farm, that means Dad’s in the combine, Hubs is running the grain trucks, Mom’s occasionally helping in the grain cart, and I’m… in the kitchen. I wasn’t raised on a farm – I married into it. I can’t move the trailer, dump the truck, shift the 4455 or herd the calves that are grazing my front lawn while the rest of the family is shelling corn at the field furthest away. But I can give rides… and I can cook!

“Field Meals” are my way of contributing to the harvest effort. As a farm wife who’s got a nine-to-five (or 7:30 to 4:00) in town, I don’t have time to pack the folding table, crock pot, and picnic basket full of gourmet goodies requiring full table service to eat supper. My family likes to “eat with one hand and shift with the other,” as my farmer would tell you! In order to keep up with the fast pace whirlwind of the season, I have developed a strategic game plan to conquer harvest hunger:

  1. Plan ahead.

    I’m a meal planner. I’ve always sat down on Sunday afternoon with my calendar, recipe book and shopping list — Harvest is no different. I have an idea list of main dishes, sides, snacks, drinks and desserts to keep stocked at the house. Drinks are chilling in the fridge, ground beef is browned the night before. That way when I get home from work I already know what’s going in their supper sacks – which leads me to my next tip…

  2. Make it disposable.

    I learned early on that stuff that gets sent out to the field doesn’t often make it back to the house – and if it does, three days later, it’s extra gross and moldy. To save time and sanity (and dishsoap!) I package everything in baggies, plastic sauce cups with lids, tin foil and plastic grocery sacks. The guys get plastic cutlery when required (which isn’t often) and in recent years I’ve invested in those Styrofoam take out boxes which have been a huge help. Once everything is individually wrapped, I do my best to split it out into Dad’s bag and Hub’s bag. I’ll pack a thermal bag with the hot food and a cold cooler with drinks to put together at the last minute in the back of my vehicle.

  3. It must be 1-handed.

    Some farm families I know take the time to sit down and eat in the car with regular dishes and silverware. Not us. This is where you have to know your farmer… As I mentioned before, my husband likes to eat while he drives, therefore it can’t be anything too complicated (no spaghetti, no chilli, no packets of mayo and mustard to put on his own sandwich). He’s running the grain trucks to the bins and can barely keep up with the combine. His dad, on the other hand, doesn’t mind taking a break from combining to sit in the car with me and eat “like a civilized human being.”
    I’ve come up with some pretty creative one-handed meals – some more successful than others. You’ve got your classic, hamburgers & brats, to the more contemporary pigs in blankets, pork chop on the bone, and grilled ham & cheese with a tomato Soup-At-Hand. Fresh fruit is always a win and veggie sticks with dip works out well. Some epic fails include Salad wraps (think: veggies wrapped up in lettuce leaves with dressing inside), go-gurt, and those kid-friendly applesauce pouches. Apparently food packaged in tubes is inappropriate for anyone over the age of 12.

  4. Keep it clean.

    Don’t forget to pack plenty of napkins, paper towels, and something to wipe their hands on before eating. My mother-in-law always sends out a wet rag in a plastic baggie for the guys to wipe their greasy, dirty hands with. (She too has learned the hard way not to send out her good washcloths – they won’t come back). I’ve tried to substitute the cloth for a wet-wipe but they just can’t withstand the rough, farmer, man-hands. Trust me on this one, just send an old sock or chunk of t-shirt.

  5. Don’t forget Dessert.

    This may or may not go noticed by my farmer, but I always try to include a treasure at the bottom of the bag. Whether it’s homemade chocolate chip cookie, a couple Reese’s peanut butter cups, or a cold silver bullet, it’s my way of making him smile as he works late into the evening.

So what’s on my upcoming menu, you ask?

  • Stuffed French Bread sandwiches with carrot and celery sticks, ranch dip, grapes, and a pudding cup. Tea/water/soda
  • Bratwurst on the grill, individual bags of chips, steamed veggies, apple slices, and banana chocolate chip muffins. Tea/water/soda
  • Breakfast sandwiches (fried eggs with bacon and cheese between buttered English muffin halves) Rosemary roasted potatoes & onions, orange slices. Tea/water/soda… chocolate milk?
  • Corn dogs, French fries, fruit cup, steamed veggies, drinks
  • Aaaaaand probably a fast food run to Arby’s or Subway a couple times in between!

If you have any recipes that fit my criteria, I’d love to hear from you.

Ashley Family pic

 

Deal_AshleyAshley Deal
Membership Administrative Assistant

#TBT: RAIN CAN BE A HUGE PAIN

[Originally published June 29, 2015]

We love this parody by Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins.  Rain IS a big pain all over the Midwest.

On Friday, after leaving IL Corn’s rained out golf outing, I took this quick video (below). You can see clearly see the damaged caused to this corn by standing water and inadequate drainage. The dark spots are higher ground where the corn wasn’t trying to grow in standing water. The lighter green spots are lower ground where the corn is struggling to survive.

Here’s a photo I took today on my way back to the office after lunch. See how the corn is lighter colored where it’s excessively wet?

wet field

This damage is everywhere. Farmers are starting to get nervous. THIS is one of the reasons why farming is such a risky business.

Mitchell_Lindsay
Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

#TBT: DON’T FORGET TO EAT YOUR VEGETABLES

[Originally published June 16, 2015]

Today is fresh vegetables day. It is the perfect time of year to purchase fresh veggies from your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Many vegetables are coming into season this time of year, which means the best product for the best price.

To stretch your dollar and prolong the life of your produce, here is a list of the best ways to store your vegetable. I have hand selected my favorite veggies for this list.

Here is a printable version of this list which also includes best storage practices for fruits and some other vegetables not on this list.

asparagusAsparagus- Place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature.

Beans- Put in open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if you’re not going to eat them right away.

Broccoli- Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Carrots- If you cut the tops off, they stay fresh longer. Place them in a closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days.

Cauliflower- It will taste best if eaten the day it is bought, but it will last awhile in a closed container in the refrigerator.

corn-on-the-cob-unhusked Celery- It does best when simply placed in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter. This is one vegetable I always make the mistake of just throwing in the crisper drawer in the fridge and leaving.

Corn- OUR FAVORITE VEGETABLE AT IL CORN! Leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best the day it’s picked.

Lettuce- Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Onion- Store in a cool, dark and dry place. It is best if they have good air circulation (don’t stack them.) Some people place them in hanging baskets. Onions that have been peeled or cut will need to be stored in the refrigerator.

onionsSpinach- Store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cool.

Hannah ZellerHannah Zeller
Communications Assistant

#TBT: 10 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FAMILY & CORPORATE FARMERS

Originally published: June 2, 2015
1. Tractor SunsetFamily farmers start working at sunrise and don’t stop until well after sunset.Corporate farmers work a 9 to 5 job.

2. Family farmers enjoy a family picnic in the field. Corporate farmers eat lunch with executives and other co-workers.

3. Family farmers work all summer to prepare for harvest. Corporate farmers have the time to take a vacation anywhere they desire.

Boy caring calf 4. Over half of family farmers have a full-time job and farm as a hobby because it’s their true passion. Corporate farmers make plenty “farming.”

5. Family farmers are interested in the good of the animals and the community. Corporate farmers are interested in money and profits.

6. Family farmers try to put an emphasis on conservation practices. Corporate farmers focus mainly on business practices.

7. Family farmers know that Paul Harvey was correct about why “God Made a Farmer” Corporate farmers believe that it was just a Super Bowl commercial meant to sell trucks.

FFA Awards8. Family farmers know the importance of FFA to allow students to develop “premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.” Corporate farmers only see a group of kids in a blue corduroy jacket.

9. Family farmers are able to diversify themselves with many crops or animals to manage the risk of the prices dropping. Corporate farmers usually deal with only one area of the market.

10. Family farmers live a lifestyle, versus corporate farmers only have a job.

As you can see there is no such thing as a corporate farmer that actually does the farming. There are corporate owned farms, but the farmers actually doing the planting, harvesting, and maintenance are the down-to-earth family farmers. According to the USDA about 93% of farming operations in the United States are family run, leaving only 7% being owned by corporations. How many times have you seen a man in a suit planning corn? If you can’t think of any you probably never have because that would be memorable!

Jessica ProbstJessica Probst
Missouri State Universtiy

#TBT: FIGHTING AIR POLLUTION WITH ETHANOL

Originally published: May 28, 2014

In just one day, you will breathe in over 3,000 gallons of air. You know there are a few things your lungs are taking in like oxygen and nitrogen. But have you ever considered the dangerous pollutants that force themselves into your lungs from the vehicles we drive?

May is Clean Air Month, shedding light on the air pollution issues that threaten U.S. communities and how you can help improve our air quality. But at the American Lung Association in Illinois, every month is Clean Air Month. We have been working with theIllinois Corn Growers Association/Illinois Corn Marketing Board for years to eliminate toxic air pollutants coming from the nation’s leading cause of outdoor air pollution: vehicles.

kenny wallaceOur work together helps gas stations convert their pumps from regular gasoline to E85 (15% gasoline, 85% ethanol) and other ethanol blends. This conversion helps bring ethanol blends into areas across Illinois heavily affected by air pollution issues. Recent research by Argonne National Laboratory showed a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when using E85 compared with regular gasoline, and corn-based ethanol is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 31%. A pump conversion project currently under development will eliminate over 760 tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air annually.

By providing cleaner-burning alternative fuel choices to consumers, we can all work together to improve air quality and lung health, and support local farmers too! If you drive a flex-fuel vehicle, you’re equipped to pump E85 into your car, and if you drive a vehicle Cleanairchoicelogo.alaINilthat is model year 2001 or newer you can run it on E15. By simply selecting a different fuel, you can help to make sure that less pollutants go into the 3,000 breaths you take every day.

To find an E85 station near you or to see if your vehicle is Flex Fuel please visitwww.CleanAirChoice.org.

JordanJordan Goebig
American Lung Association of Illinois

 

#TBT DISTILLERS GRAINS WITH SOLUBLES: WHAT ARE THEY?!

This post was originally posted on January 15, 2015.

Farmers, livestock feed, texas mission, ddgsDried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have become a valuable part of agriculture.  A by-product of ethanol production, this product makes an excellent livestock feed and is transported by rail to various parts of the U.S. so that the livestock centers of the world can take advantage of it.  DDGS are also exported to other countries to feed livestock there.

coop, livestock feed, ethanol plant by productDDGS can be either dry or wet.  In the Midwest, it is very common for ethanol plants to dry their DDGS in a dryer.  This dry product stays fresh for a much longer time and is able to be transported across the country or world.  It is also cheaper to transport because ethanol plants are not shipping so much water weight.  The DDGS in the photo above are dried.

ethanol plant, by product, livestock feed, wet distillers grains

The Distillers Grains in this photo are wet.  Often, ethanol plants that are co-located with livestock farms don’t undergo the additional cost to dry their DDGS because they can be used nearly instantly by area livestock.  Also, with livestock close by, these WDGS don’t need to be transported great distances, thus the water weight does not matter.  The WDGS pictured here are produced in Texas and feed almost immediately to cattle.

One-third of the corn used in ethanol production returns to the market as livestock feed.  In fact, DDGS have replaced soybean meal as the second largest livestock feed component, second behind corn.

Want to learn more about DDGS?  Check out these links:

DDGS OVERTAKE #2 SPOT IN LIVESTOCK RATION FEEDSTOCK FROM SOYBEANS

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DDGS FROM DIFFERENT IL ETHANOL PLANTS

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

#TBT THANKSGIVING DECEPTION: A BUYER’S INFORMATION GUIDE

This post was originally posted last year on November 13th, and it is the perfect time for a poultry refresher.

turkeysWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to let you in on the Grocer’s Turkey secrets! Popular to common belief, not all turkeys are created equal and not all consumers are educated before making their poultry decisions! Before you purchase your prized bird for your family feast, make sure you know these 6 turkey labels to look for!

AntibioticFreeMeatNo Antibiotics: This term signifies a producer’s demonstration of animals being raised without antibiotics. However, whether or not the bird was fed antibiotics, there is a law that the animals must go through a “withdrawal” to allow traces of antibiotics to leave the turkey before it is slaughtered, to ensure the complete absence of antibiotic residues in the bird. So whether your label reads “No Antibiotics” or not, come time to eat, your bird will not contain any antibiotics.

No hormones in poultry porkNo Hormones: Producers use this term to trick you into thinking that other turkeys that are not their brand are filled with nasty hormones. FALSE! By lawHormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. In order to even use the “No Hormones” label, it must be followed by the statement “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

So far we have learned that ALL turkeys in the grocery stores are able to be served up at your Thanksgiving Day feast without any antibiotics or hormones, thanks to the laws in place.

  • Three other labeling tactics are the Organic, Natural, and Free range labels.

Organic uses those generic No Hormone, No Antibiotic labels, as well as labels that express that their turkeys will have been raised organically on certified organic land that has outdoor access and fed certified organic feed. This is nice except for the fact that although they have access to the outdoors, how many turkeys actually get outside? For this Organic label you will likely be paying 6X more at the grocery store.

Organic pricing

 

All NaturalNatural: Natural was the most truthful label I have seen so far. Natural means minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients. The turkeys are fed animal by-products, which wild turkeys are accustomed to. No notation of the diets or living conditions is needed for this label.

Free RangeFree Range is another deceptive label. Free Range labeling does not require a producer to have a set allowance of outdoor time in the wind and sun, the minimum requirement that they have is to have outdoor access (sound familiar).  Being labeled “Free Range” does not necessarily mean better or worse living conditions.

So what have we learned? As you can see marketing ploys are all over your Thanksgiving packaging, from how the turkeys are raised to what is in the meat you purchase. This Thanksgiving make sure you are educated about your purchases and if you have farming friends, ASK questions or ask right here in the comments! These labels are out there to make money, not to tell consumers the truth! Don’t be fooled by marketing this season.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at IL Corn!

amy k

Amy Kuhlmann
Illinois State University

#TBT MY FAVORITE POSTS FROM OCTOBERS PAST

Where has the year gone?!?! I can’t believe it is October already.

I think we can all agree that with October comes a lot of other really great things, like the Fall! It is the best time of year, the temperatures are cooler (but it’s not freezing yet), the leaves are changing and the landscape is beautiful, and we can’t forget there is PUMPKIN SPICE FLAVORED EVERYTHING!

Fun Fact: Did you know Illinois was the number one producing state of pumpkins? Remember that next time you get your pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks.

October also has, football, bonfires, s’mores, start of hunting season, my birthday, Halloween, haunted houses, many other favorite things… and of course HARVEST TIME!

In the spirit of October, I have gone back and selected my favorite posts in October from previous years.

Here are the posts I think deserve another look. Click on each title to read the full post.

#7 CUTTING BY HAND TO CUTTING BY COMBINE: HISTORY OF HARVEST AG MECHANIZATION

““It’s harvest time in this little town, time to bring it on in, pay the loans down.”  Luke Bryan’s new song “Harvest Time” explains this time of year perfectly.  However, not so long ago, harvest was done completely different around here.  Instead of the combines, tractors, grain carts and the semi-trucks we use today, farmers harvested with much simpler tools.  Farming has seen numerous changes over the years, but none of them have been as impactful as the mechanization of harvest equipment.”Threshing Machine

This article is a fun little story about the history of farm equipment, and it has a great picture.

#6 GMOs – THERE’S JUST NO SUGAR COATING THIS

“Most of the corn grown in Illinois is genetically modified corn.  It’s genetically altered to withstand insect attack or to live through certain herbicide applications.  New varieties are genetically altered to perform under stressful conditions like last year’s drought.

Although this technology makes some customers skeptical, hybridization of crops has been happening for years and years.  In fact, the history of the Illinois Corn Growers Association starts before 1900 sometime when groups of farmers would come together for a fall meeting to trade their best ears of corn.  Those kernels from other parts of the state would grow and pollinate with kernels the farmer already had to continually produce the best corn – ear size, stalk quality, performance under stress were all factors when farmers selected their very best ears.

Years later, we shorten the process by choosing genes that we know are insect resistant, herbicide resistant, drought resistant and inserting them into our plants.  And some remain unsure that the research has been done to prove these foods safe.”

I cannot believe the amount is misinformation is out there about GMOs. Don’t be a fool, stay in school… and get the facts about GMOs. They are safe, science says so.

#5  WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE THROUGHOUT HISTORY

“Women have always been a part of the agriculture industry, but most the time have been overlooked. However, this trend is changing, and women are becoming more prevalent on farms today. Do you know any women in agriculture, either on farms or in the industry?

In early American history, a woman’s job on the farm typically meant bookkeeping for the farming operation. Women also tended to the family garden, which was most likely a major food supply for the farm family. Even though women did contribute to the farm, their work was never recorded by the Department of Agriculture, thus making women seem non-existent in the agriculture world.”

#4  THESE PILES ARE THE REASON WE NEED ETHANOL MARKETS AND NEW LOCKS AND DAMS

“We have SO MUCH CORN right now all over the Midwest.  These piles are the reason we work for increased ethanol markets and upgraded locks and dams.

Although non-farmers think that we don’t have enough corn to feed all our markets, WE DO!  These piles are proof!  We need ethanol as a growing market to use up all this corn.  We need locks and dams to get our corn to international markets.”corn pile with men

Making sure our farmers have a demand for their crop is what we are all about!

#3  WE GROW IT, WE USE IT!

“Ethanol is always a good choice if you are concerned about the environment, energy security, and even buying local!

Illinois grows it, you should use it!”

#2 INDIAN CORN: A FALL FAVORITE!

indian corn“A symbol of harvest season, they crop up every fall— those ears of corn with multicolored kernels that adorn doors and grace centerpieces. So how does this decorative corn, known in America as flint corn or Indian corn, differ from other types of corn? How long has it been around? Also, is it grown solely to look good next to pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows in those seasonal displays, or can you actually eat it?

Corn does not grow wild anywhere in the world. Instead, this domesticated plant evolved sometime in the last 10,000 years, through human intervention, from teosinte, a form of wild Mexican grass. Originally cultivated in the Americas, corn was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in the late 1400s; thanks to other explorers and traders, it soon made its way to much of the rest of the globe. In America, the early colonists learned how to cultivate it from the Indians, for whom it was a dietary staple.”

When you think of Fall decorations, you think of Indian corn, so obviously this one is a staple. I even learned something new when I read this post, and that is a good reason to have it in my number two spot on this countdown.

#1  HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW CORN?

“Pop Quiz!! Take our quiz and find out how much you know about Illinois corn and then leave a comment with what you scored!”corn quiz

This post was my number one favorite post from all previous October posts. It is a fun interactive quiz to test your knowledge of how much you know about corn. I took the quiz and on my first try scored a 9,683. No big deal. (*Brushes shoulder off*)

 

Hannah ZellerHannah Ferguson
Communications Assistant

 

 

 

#TBT IL FARM FAMILIES: SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT AGRICULTURE

This post was originally posted on our blog last July and it is still very relevant today!

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, visitwww.watchusgrow.org

 

Rosie PhotoRosalie Sanderson
Previous Membership Administrative Assistant