This video was originally posted on Common Ground’s website.
How do you define local food? Maryland farmer Jennifer Schmidt wants consumers to know that even some canned foods could be considered local for many people. Listen to her story in the video.
Today, some of our staff and board members had the chance to visit the Illinois State Fair for Ag Day.
They spent the day visiting and discussing current ag issues, and even sitting down with Congresswoman Bustos.
This recipe was originally posted about this time last year. It is so good, we thought it deserved a second debut.
If you have your own garden or are near someone who does, you MIGHT have a ton of zucchini on your hands. Use that zucchini to make this recipe immediately. Pronto. You seriously can’t wait another minute before tasting this deliciousness.
And if you must run to the store to grab a lemon (I had to), just buy a whole bag. Because you will want to make this again and again … I promise.
adapted from this recipe
You will need:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup grated zucchini (leave the peel on!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the milk and lemon juice and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed in mixture.
Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.
Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I used cupcake liners, but you could just grease well and go without) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While baking, make the glaze …
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Spoon glaze over each cupcake. Let glaze set, then serve.
If you prefer a little less lemon taste – although I don’t know why you would! – use a little less lemon and a splash of milk to make your glaze.
This summer nearly 600 teachers from across the state took part in the annual Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom “Summer Agricultural Institutes”. During these week long sessions, teachers took an opportunity to find how they can integrate agriculture into their curriculum during the coming school year. These courses featured opportunities to hear from the AITC program and various commodity groups as well as take traveling workshops to explore careers in agriculture by visiting various local agriculture industries and first hand experiences at farms.
By far, the most exciting part, typically after a couple of brief introductory comments is a panel where farmers share with teachers issues and concerns that they face. These farmer panels are typically my favorite part, and I work to make sure I get to be there for some of these. Farmers share concerns about government regulations at the national, state and local level. Farmers share the lack of understanding that many have about what goes on with a farm. They even share thoughts and comments about labor issues. I am always impressed with their honesty and integrity. More than once I have heard a farmer say, I don’t know about that because we don’t face that issue on our farm. Teachers, and the general public, appreciate honesty!
If I am present, as the conversation wraps up, I try to ask a couple of questions of the teachers about their challenges. Often teachers share their frustrations with the issues of regulations at the state and national level. They also share their frustrations relating to the fact that the general public is out of touch with the practices of modern education. In the end, I feel our farmers and teachers see parallels within their livelihoods.
Most importantly for both, I work to point out that our farmers need to know what is going on in school and our teachers need to know what is going on in agriculture. In an era of turmoil with state funding, public education is even more reliant on the local property tax base. In many school districts across the state, the agriculture sector plays an important role in local funding. I urge teachers to reach out to the agriculture community, and the farmers to reach out to the teachers to find out what is new and emerging in their chosen field. Reflect back to the innovations that have become common place on your farm in the last few years, and realize that many new innovations have also occurred in education. In our work in Agriculture in the Classroom we are fortunate to work with people that are passionate about their career and livelihood-both farmers and teachers and I hope both will take an opportunity to explore what is new with each!
Illinois Ag in the Classroom Coordinator
I finally got my yearly -corn dog, funnel cake and lemon shake-up fix. Food, hands down my favorite thing about fair time.
This time to year also brings the time for children to show off all of their hard work and talents with their 4-H projects. These projects range from cake decorating to showing livestock and everything in between.
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, empowering six million young people throughout the United States. 4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.
Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four Hs in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs.
- Head – Managing, Thinking
- Heart – Relating, Caring
- Hands – Giving, Working
- Health – Being, Living
It is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t start from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.
Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.
Find a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.
Don’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.
Most Americans don’t like mandates.
As Americans, we typically believe in capitalism and a business model that sends products out into the world and asks them to stand on their own two feet or die trying. Yet, farmers have continuously asked for ethanol mandates and I know that’s confusing.
It’s a complex issue – aren’t they all? You’ll have to stick with me, but I know we’ll come out at the end much smarter …
1. Gas Stations are largely owned by or on contract with “Big Oil.”
There are a few locally owned gas stations – in Central Illinois a company called Qik N EZ is popular and those stations do not apply here – but most stations are owned or on contract with the big oil refiners like BP, Shell, or Mobil.
BP, Shell, and Mobil have a significant interest in petroleum-based fuels. I think we can all agree on that. And if they don’t own the station, they spell out the terms in a contract that ties the hands of the local owner and doesn’t allow him to make all his own decisions regarding the fuels he can offer.
2. “Big Oil” wants to protect its market.
Of course. This makes sense. If I’m a company in the business of refining and retailing petroleum-based fuel, then I obviously want to protect my market and continue making money off petroleum-based fuel.
No one begrudges the oil industry for their self-preservation. It’s the American way and exactly what we’d expect any other industry to do.
FYI – Exxon Mobil made $4.9 billion in the first quarter of 2015 for reference.
3. But “Big Oil” has little interest in the ethanol industry. Anything more than 10% ethanol is a competitor.
In a different world, if we were writing a different story, the oil industry would have seen the potential for corn-based ethanol and invested heavily. If that were the case, we’d be fighting some other battle right now because “Big Oil” would want to see ethanol succeed. But that didn’t happen.
As it stands, we have a corn-based fuel and a petroleum-based fuel fighting for market share. Cost of production and cost to the consumer ends up being a huge player in who will succeed.
Ethanol is cheaper and cleaner with better performance so we are poised to win. But …
4. All those gas stations are owned or contracted with “Big Oil” so they won’t allow ethanol* to be sold.
Selling cheaper corn-based fuel is not in the best interest of the oil industry who wants to protect its market and profit, even though selling corn-based fuel is in the best interest of Americans who want to save money, protect the environment, and not send their sons and daughters overseas to fight for oil.
5. Here’s where the mandate comes in.
It’s not the best option, but America isn’t a Utopian society. Since selling ethanol* doesn’t make sense for the oil industry and they won’t do it just to be nice (who would?), we have to make them sell it because it’s better for the country.
By the way, the “mandate” is more commonly referred to as the RFS – the Renewable Fuel Standard. It’s a piece of legislation that forces retailers to sell increasing amounts of ethanol every year because Congress understands that ethanol is good for America.
6. And all those negative things you hear about ethanol? Those are stories spun by a very wealthy oil industry that doesn’t want to lose market share.
Questions? Comments? Let’s chat in the comments …
*beyond 10% blends