Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish are some of the many condiments that make food even more delicious. Most of the condiments sold in grocery stores have one purpose and that is to add some extra flavoring to food. One particular condiment that is more than just a way to make food more flavorful is horseradish.

Horseradish is a plant and has certain ingredients in it that can be used for medical purposes. In the medical world, horseradish can be used to fight bacteria and stop spasms. In the world of food, horseradish is a great way to add strong, zesty flavoring to whatever you may be eating. Horseradish is great with sushi, sandwiches, salad, and basically any food that needs a splash of bold flavors. In the United States, Illinois is one of the leading producers of horseradish with about 1500 acres of land. Horseradish in Illinois is primarily grown in the Mississippi River Valley.

Horseradish_Sauerkraut_MustardIf you want to make your own horseradish sauce at home you can make the sauce in a short amount of time with a short list of ingredients. The simple ingredients you need are: 2 tablespoons of horseradish, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 3 tablespoons of reduced fat mayonnaise, 1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper, and a half cup of nonfat sour cream. You do not need to use reduced fat mayonnaise or nonfat sour cream; not fat or regular would work just the same! After you poured all of these ingredients in a bowl, whisk together the horseradish, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, ground red pepper, and sour cream. Make sure to keep the horseradish sauce refrigerated. Happy Eating!

HorseradishFestivalWhat better way to embrace the dynamic ways to use horseradish than attending a horseradish festival? Every year for 25 years the International Horseradish Festival is held in Collinsville, Illinois. Individuals from miles and miles away come to this festival for food, entertainment, and fun! The International Horseradish festival began in 1988 and is still going strong, attracting more and more people each year. This year the festival is going to be held on June 6-8 at Woodland Park, just one block east of Illinois Route 159. At the festival you will be surrounded by fun filled horseradish festivities including, root toss, root golf, root sacking contests, Little Miss Horseradish Festival Pageant, horseradish recipe contest, and the annual Horseradish Root Derby. Along with all of the festive activities, many of the food booths include horseradish in the recipes. Some of the delicious food available for sale include, pulled pork sandwiches with horseradish BBQ sauce, chicken tacos with chipotle horseradish sauce, horseradish bruschetta, horseradish-fried pickles, and much more! This festival is a wonderful way to bring family and friends together ultimately learning fun and interesting ways to incorporate horseradish into your recipes. Horseradish is more than just a condiment it is a way to bring loved ones closer together for a fun filled weekend.

SamarSamar Dababneh
Illinois State University Student


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 the Illinois 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 visit

JordanJordan Goebig
American Lung Association of Illinois



Clean water is a necessity and something that we should all be concerned about.

But there’s also this idea of balance and having enough balance in our lives and in our government that economies and business systems can continue to function.

In the opinion of many farmers, balance is very nearly completely lost. Corn farmers are attacked for starving people. Corn farmers are attacked for making children obese. And that’s just one example.

standing waterA better example is the EPA proposing to remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act.

The original purpose of the Clean Water Act was to eliminate large industries from discharging pollutants into local rivers and lakes. But when you remove the word “navigable” from the law, the EPA is now able to regulate every single body of water in the U.S.

This means, not only can they regulate the Mississippi River, but also the the water coming from your gutters and your downspouts.

Not only can they regulate Lake Michigan, but also the water draining from your yard and down the street.

Does this feel balanced?

Farmers are concerned about the EPA’s overreach to grab more authority and power. As small communities and homeowners are treating lawns and golf courses, they may be subject to new water and discharge regulations that can cost additional money. These changes impact farmers in much the same way.

And another concern – how is the EPA actually going to regulate each individual body of water all over the U.S.? Isn’t that going to require a lot of time and a lot of money? Aren’t both of those in relatively high demand?

If you’d like to read more about the EPA’s proposed rule to alter the Clean Water Act and grab more authority over every single cluster of water droplets in the U.S., click here.


There are so many myths that buzz around about the agriculture industry. It is time to put a few of those myths to a rest. Even if you are not a farmer, I can help you decode a few of these myths, and help you make better food choices.

  1. GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) are less nutritious than non-GMO products.

This myth is one of the largest agricultural movements sweeping the globe right now. Many people believe that GMO products are less nutritious that Non-GMO foods. There have been many studies conducted on GMO foods, and no evidence has been proven that GMO foods are less nutritious or unsafe. In fact, it has been proven that growing GMO crops can result in better-tasting fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are naturally resistant to pests. A genetically modified organism is an organism in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. It creates an avenue to transfer genes from one organism to another. Here is a great video that explains more about GMOs.

GMO Concerns?

  1. Meat is full of antibiotics and other drugs.

There are times that antibiotics are used in livestock production, when needed. They are never used in meat production. The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) does not allow farmers and ranchers to medicate livestock prior to taking them to market. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) monitors meat processing plants where they test animal carcasses and organs to insure there are no traces of antibiotics or other drugs. The fact is that there are rarely any violations of drug contamination. You can now rest easy, knowing that your meat is antibiotic and drug free.

  1. Labeling our foods creates healthier food options.

gluten free saladFood labeling can be deceiving to shoppers in the store. Many food labels are used as marketing techniques to influence a buyer’s decision on a product. The majority of Americans will be influenced to buy something that is “gluten-free”, “GMO-free”, and “Antibiotic-free”. When in fact they most likely do not know what gluten, or better yet what a GMO is. The movement make our food labeled by law is a way for companies to use marketing techniques to influence your buying decision. As you can see a low carb gluten free salad in the picture, however it is not necessarily healthy.

  1. Gluten is unhealthy for humans to eat.

Gluten has recently turned to one of the largest health and wellness myths in America. Many people today hear the word gluten, and automatically place it as the new food evil. The interesting thing is, most people don’t even know what gluten really is. Check out the video below to see people who support a gluten-free diet, yet have no clue what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it raise and keep its shape. This protein can be harmful to people if they suffer from celiac disease, which is an intestinal disorder that causes you to be sensitive to gluten. Don’t just cut gluten out of your diet, it can cause you to become deficient in fiber and many other essential vitamins and minerals. If you feel you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to do your research and see your physician.

What is Gluten?

The next time you hear of a new fad that demotes conventional agriculture, make sure to do your research. You can find out answers to many of your food questions here at Common Ground, or just ask a farmer.

Jesse Cler PicJesse Cler
Southern Illinois University


Many farmers have been putting in tile this spring – check out this oldie, but goodie post and learn more about tiling!

Two years ago when the a 42 inch natural gas pipeline was installed running across some of my acreage, I had no idea I had a problem. In fact, I watched and watched that field hoping not to notice even a hint of standing water. And I didn’t for a while.

But you may remember that we’ve had three pretty wet seasons – last spring the crop was very late getting into the ground because of rain and we were even later getting it out of the ground because of rain. This year, the past couple of weeks have been filled with one downpour after another.

All that rain revealed a tiling problem. And since the rain still isn’t showing any signs of stopping, I’ve been two years trying to get it fixed. Finally, this month I was able to secure both the tiling company AND a dry enough day to get it done.

We didn’t figure this out until nearly the end of the process, but here is the problem. When the natural gas pipeline was installed, this section of older clay tile was broken and was not reconnected to the tiling system in this field.


So we started in to fix it, essentially digging a trench that would hold the tile to drain water from the field. Next to fertilizer, tiling a field is one of the most profitable things you can do and will quickly earn you complete return on your investment. In fact, the absence of this particular section of tile yielded me two complete acres of drowned crops, five acres that were two wet to apply fertilizer, and reduced yield on about twenty acres surrounding it all because of excess moisture.

We are installing five inch, black plastic tile because it is quicker and cheaper. The alternative is the clay tile that you saw in the picture above and it must be hand placed in the ground as opposed to the black plastic tile that comes on a large roll and just flows right into the trench that we dug. The tile is about three feet deep, and most tiles are set between 75 and 90 feet apart parallel throughout a field depending on soil type.

In the end, this is what I have. I lost a sixteen foot swath of emerging corn through my field that I won’t be able to replace. Typically, farmers don’t tile in the middle of the growing season and disrupt their crops, but the losses I’ve sustained over the past two years made the timing this year necessary.

Bring on the rain!

Garry Niemeyer
former ICGA Board member
current NCGA Board member


Summer is quickly approaching, which means the fresh produce at the grocery store is about to start looking a lot better! There is nothing like a fresh salad during the summer months, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up from your typical lettuce salads. This is a recipe that uses some of my favorite summertime veggies: avocados and tomatoes!


Avocado Tomato Salad: 

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rosie PhotoRosie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Membership Administrative Assistant



fuel cap

If your gas cap is yellow like this one, you can fill up with any blend of ethanol you like! E85 (85 percent ethanol) is usually cheaper than regular gasoline so it’s a great option if you’re looking to save money immediately at the pump. For a great balance of saving money and preserving fuel economy, consider a flex fuel pump and E30.

Find a flex fuel pump near you and try out different blends to see what works best for your driving habits. Save money! Save the environment! Save local jobs! Buy ethanol blends!


Summer is finally here! The grass is green, flip-flops are on my feet, and I can walk outside without neighbors mistaking me for an Eskimo. Along with the joys of summer, the heart of wedding season is quickly approaching and if you’re anything like me you could use a little help preparing ASAP!

I thought it would be fun to talk about the difference between “city” vs. “country” wedding etiquette. I don’t know about y’all but I have a very diverse group of friends. Attending a university in the middle of Illinois will expose you to people from inner-city Chicago all the way down to folks from southern Illinois. Obviously, those different backgrounds will bring a varied sense of style and makes planning for those weddings a little bit of a mystery. And trust me; there will be enough mystery when it comes to whatever is being served for dinner at the banquet hall, so we don’t need confusion surrounding what the atmosphere will be like as well!

Wedding Etiquette: Top 5 differences between city vs. country style

1.)    Beaches vs. Barns

  • City- A destination wedding to a tropical area is very common for people from the city. The gorgeous view makes for a romantic setting for pictures and can add so much personality to any wedding! If you’re attending a destination wedding this summer make sure to pack the sunscreen and sundresses…we’re all jealous!
  • Country- Don’t get me wrong, us country kids love the beach! However, the beautifully restored barn outside of our hometown is much more our style and we will take advantage of that rustic backdrop on our big day. For anyone attending a barn wedding, it will be a great change of scenery and makes for a great time once the reception is underway!

barn beach wedding

2.)    Heels vs. Boots

  • City- As a fellow girly-girl, I understand the struggle of a shoe obsession. It’s real, it’s happening, and guys don’t understand it. Weddings are the PERFECT occasion to show off those Jessica Simpson heels you bought two summers ago and haven’t worn yet! Slide on those pretty pumps and get to the reception!
  • Country- Literally cowboy boots everywhere. If you’ve attended a country wedding you will understand what I’m talking about here. Boots are the perfect accessory to add country flare to a wedding. Most likely the entire bridal party will be decked out in boots and ready to show them off for pictures. Bust out the boots and you’ll fit right in!

heels or boots

3.)    Church Pews vs. Hay Bales

  • City- It’s rare to come by large open spaces in the city. Usually, city wedding ceremonies are held in a traditional church where you can expect the comfort of air conditioning and church pews. You’ll be thankful for this when it feels like 143 degrees in the middle of July!
  • Country- Everyone can appreciate a little air conditioning in the summer. However, people who grew up on a farm are used to the heat and spending the day outside. It just seems appropriate to hold our wedding ceremonies outside as well! If you’re heading to an outdoor country wedding this summer, expect to sit on hay bales and bring something to fan yourself with. Keep those fingers crossed that you’ll be seated next to a cute boy!

bales or pews

4.)    Formal vs. Casual

  • City- Weddings in the city tend to be held at high-class places. It’s common that a dress code will be listed on the invitation if it’s a black tie event. However, even if no dress code is mentioned, you will most likely be expected to dress in formal attire. Like I said before, this can be a fun time to play dress-up and bust out the dresses and suits that make you feel all sassy inside!
  • Country- Contrary to the city, a country setting tends to be a little more laid back and casual. It’s very common to see camouflage incorporated into the bridal party and usually guest are encouraged to include a little country flare into their attire as well, especially if the wedding is held outdoors or in a rustic barn setting.

black tie or casual

5.)    Champagne Glasses vs. Mason Jars

  • City- Similar to any wedding reception, it’s likely that guest will be making toasts to the bride and groom throughout the night. Usually, banquet halls provide tables with Champagne glasses or you can expect to receive nice glassware when ordering a drink from the bar.
  • Country- In recent years the Mason jar trend has taken the country scene by storm. For some reason, someone-somewhere decided that a Mason jar captures the essence of “country” décor. Don’t get me wrong, I love sipping some sweet tea out of a nice Mason jar…it’s the perfect amount of redneck and I definitely can dig it! Bottom line: if you’re attending a country wedding this summer, expect to raise a Mason jar and toast to the new bride and groom!

champaign toast

I can only hope that after reading this you’re a little more prepared for all those weddings this summer. Don’t worry through; I’m not holding my breath! Whether you’re heading to a big city or out to the farm for weddings this summer, make sure you remember to bring your party pants. That’s all it really comes down to, right?

ashley wagnerAshley Wagner
Illinois State University