GRILLED GUAC WITH SWEET CORN … YUM!

Sgrilled guacweet corn is ready and coming out of fields and gardens in bucketfuls!  We had sweet corn twice last week, but I think this week, I’m trying this grilled avocado guacamole with sweet corn.  Sounds just yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat grill to medium high heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together corn oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, garlic powder and paprika.
  • Brush avocados, cut sides up, with corn oil mixture and add to grill, cut sides down. Cook until lightly browned and grill marks appear, about 3-4 minutes; let cool.
  • In a small bowl, gently mash avocados using a potato masher. Add corn, red onion, goat cheese, cilantro, remaining lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste, and gently toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately.

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE CATTLE BARN

The McLean County Fair starts this week, and I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic about the whole thing. Like most other farm kids, I was in 4-H and spent a good chunk of my summers living at those county fairs where I showed cattle. Corn dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner, tractor pulls, rigging up hammocks in the cattle chutes for an afternoon nap, being equally as intrigued by the city folks walking through the cattle barn as they were by the cattle themselves… gotta love it! While my friends were busy sleeping until noon and spending the rest of the day in the pool, we were living it up in the beef barn at the county fairs! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
227302_1017763249277_5428_nYou can learn so many life lessons from those kinds of experiences. For one thing, no one can teach you respect like a 1,400 lb steer. If the sheer size and strength of that animal isn’t motivation to pay attention and have respect, I don’t know what is! You also learn about responsibility. If you think you are eating breakfast before those cattle are fed, washed and watered… think again. You can eat as soon as those animals are taken care of and content in their stalls.

One of the greatest lessons I learned through the 4-H shows, however, is selflessness. You see, livestock shows can be ruthless just like any other competition. But, at least in my experience, that is what you see at the open shows where anyone and everyone can enter into the competition. The 4-H fairs are different. Each and every one of the kids in the show ring has worked hard to train, feed and groom their animal properly. Some of the kids in the show ring are more experienced than others, but regardless, everyone is learning. At a 4-H fair, I rarely saw an exhibitor or parent hesitate to help someone else with their animal. Whether it be grooming tips, helping with water buckets, or getting a rowdy animal under control, everyone steps in to help those who need it.

These lessons are, of course, relevant in the cattle barn at the county fairs. But they also extend to every other aspect of life. There will always be a need for respect and responsibility no matter what profession those kids choose to be in. And even beyond the workplace, there will always be people who need a helping hand. So many people these days would choose to look the other way; they only help others if they see some sort of personal gain. So often, though, it is people like all those 4-H kids I grew up with that are the ones to step in and help without a second thought.

There are so many different ways to grow up and spend your summer vacations, and I don’t think any of them are wrong. Heck, on those hot summer days I was so jealous of my friends playing video games in the air conditioning & swimming in their pools! But looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I loved those smelly, dusty, sweaty cattle barns… and I learned so many things that some of my peers still haven’t figured out. So I hope all those 4-H kids are going to enjoy themselves at the fair this week! Because I miss it like crazy!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant

WALKING BEANS – NOW JUST A MOMENT IN HISTORY

walking beansA belated Throwback Thursday to a time when walking beans was what every farm family did from 6 am til noon in the month of July.

Before genetically modified soybeans came on the market, farmers would plow in between the rows to keep the weeds down.  Then, when the soybeans got big enough that the plow couldn’t get through, families would walk the rows with a weed hook, pulling weeds from the field.

Your pant legs would be soaked through from the dew on the leaves.  Your back and neck would be sunburned from the direct sun.  You would ache after a week of this sort of work and you’d know that you had several more weeks in store.

But the laughs and the conversation made the trip *almost* worth it.

WOULD YOU PAY YOUR BOSS $6,000 TO WORK FOR ONE WEEK?

Can you imaging paying your boss around $6,000 for the opportunity to work this week?  Getting no benefits?  No paycheck?  No time off or contribution to your 401K?  That’s what farmers are doing this year …

Corn prices are right now below the cost of production.

It’s one thing to say that, and another to understand what it really means.

First, you have to realize that every farm is a small business and every farmer will opt to run his farm a different way.  Some will own their land, others will rent it, and others will crop share with their landowners.  Some farmers will get rain or drought or disease on their farms and others won’t.  For every farmer and for every farm, the production practices and input costs can vary SIGNIFICANTLY.

Still, understanding that, we can make a few assumptions.  An average cash rent price per acre is $350.  Average production costs per acre are around $500 (this includes fuel, seed, fertilizers, etc).  We can assume that for many farmers, they paid around $850 per acre to put a crop in the ground and get it to grow.

Corn prices today are around $3.50 per bushel.  A reasonable Illinois average is 180 bushels per acre so we can calculate out that a farmer could make $630 per acre if he sold his crop today for cash.

It doesn’t take a mathmetician to figure out that a farmer is losing around $220 per acre on his crop this year.

He is actually paying his farm for the privilege of farming.

Taking that a step further, if an average Illinois farmer is farming 1,500 acres, he’s losing $330,000 this year.  Money that should be going to make payments on tractors and combines.  Money that should be paying for his family’s insurance coverage.  Money that could be buying next year’s seed.

A loss like that puts a gain in previous years in perspective, doesn’t it?  Farmers must save in the good years to cover the bad.  Thus, farmers never really “get rich.”  They just try to make enough to raise their family year after year.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FIVE FARMS TO VISIT WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS SUMMER!

By my calculations, there are only six weeks left before school start in Illinois.  Make sure you’re fitting in these fun farm family visits before your summer is over!

 

  1. Ropp Cheese Farm

ropp cheese2676 Ropp Road
Normal, IL 61761
For more information call: (309) 452-3641
http://www.roppcheese.com/contact.html

They won 6 first place, blue ribbons at the Illinois State Fair Dairy and Cheese Competition. Visit their store and try for yourself their prize winning cheeses!

  1. Heartland Lodge

heartland lodgeRR 1 Box 8A
Nebo, IL 62355
For more information call: (800) 717-4868
http://www.heartlandlodge.com/

“This Illinois bed and breakfast & resort has become a national and international attraction, stealing the hearts of guests from across the globe.”

  1. Richardson Farm

richardson farm9407 Richardson Road
Spring Grove, IL 60081
For more information call: (815) 675-9729 http://www.richardsonadventurefarm.com

Home of the largest corn maze in the world with 5 separate maze games winding through 33 acres of live corn!!!

4. Eckert’s Orchards

eckerts20995 Eckert Orchard Rd
Grafton, IL 62037
For more information call: (618) 786-3445
-OR-
951 S. Green Mount Road
Belleville, IL 62220
For more information call: (618) 233-0513
http://www.eckerts.com/

Enjoy fresh tree-ripened Peaches at either The Country Store in Belleville or The Grafton Country Store.

  1. Fair Oaks Farms

fairoaks856 N 600 E
Fair Oaks, IN 47943
For more information call: (219) 394-2025
http://fofarms.com/

Explore the dairy industry by going on The Dairy Adventure or the swine industry by attending The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms.

ALWAYS ADVOCATING FOR FARMERS

grant and Rodney Davis

IL Corn just returned from Washington, DC where we got to meet with all of our Illinois delegation. Our priorities in Congress right now are protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard, advocating for a User Fee which will speed up new lock and dam delivery, and preventing EPA overreach as they attempt to regulate all the waters in the U.S.

Here, Grant Noland talks to Congressman Rodney Davis, thanking him for his support on our issues.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ILLINOIS FARMERS AT THE CORN CRIB

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

SIX MUST HAVE FOODS FOR YOUR SUMMER PICNIC!

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

IL FARM FAMILIES: SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT AGRICULTURE

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