This post was sponsored by Iowa Corn. All opinions are 100% my own.
Iowa CornQuest 2015 – My Trip to Iowa
In case you were wondering, I am the third one from the left, or the only one SHIVERING! And all the others are some of my awesome bloggy friends!
Connie from Urban Bakes, Kristen from Make the Best of Everything, Jenny from In the Kitchen with Jenny, Isabel from Family Foodie, Anetta from The Wanderlust Kitchen, Mandy from Mandy’s Recipe Box, Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life, Becky from The Cookie Rookie, and Justine from Cooking and Beer.
SO. WHY didn’t anyone tell me that December is here?!? This is happening all so fast. I haven’t even decided on my Christmas lights.
For the love of my sanity, I took an awesome trip to Iowa right before this whole rush-Holiday Season, and enjoyed every second of it.
Quad Cities, proud farmers, beautiful land, good ol’ American values… I experienced it all in just 2 short days. If I had a time machine, I would go back in a heartbeat. Who knew that Iowa would leave such a wonderful lasting impression on me.
I arrived only about 20 minutes before we were supposed to all get together in the hotel lobby… story of my life is that everything is ALWAYS last minute with me.
BUT I had enough time to look around the beautiful Blackhawk Hotel, and enjoy a few moments all to myself on a very comfortable king size bed. Have I told you how much I LOVE hotels? Two words; room. service. One more; housekeeping.
After meeting up with my beautiful bloggy friends, we headed over to the Mississippi Distillery for cocktails and a dinner featuring all things CORN! It was all so very deeelicious.
That’s me, in the red, rockin’ the 1920’s. 😀
While at the distillery, we also had a chance to mingle with local farmers, as well as members of the Iowa Corn organizations, and speakers. We heard a lot of information, mostly about corn ethanol production and the benefits of using it versus other fuels. Quite an interesting topic and one that I want to learn more about.
The next day we all had breakfast together at the hotel. During our breakfast, we attended a presentation by Dr. Ruth McDonald, a Professor and Chair at Iowa State University. As someone who is a part of the food industry in some way or another, I’m used to people having very strong opinions about the food they eat, or the food that is available to us. Therefore, I was excited to listen to Dr. McDonald, and discuss the practices behind Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Her presentation really helped me to gain a better understanding of why GMOs are used in agriculture. We met farmers who farm with and without using GMOs, and the one thing that I took away from it was; don’t form an opinion on anything until you’ve heard all sides of the story. This goes with everything in life, and it’s a good theory to live by.
I learned that many farmers use GMOs to help make plants less susceptible to pests, drought, and other issues that can damage their crops. These practices help farmers save more soil due to the decreased need for tilling, which helps keep the watersheds clean and increases water quality as a whole. It also means that farmers can spray less pesticides on the plants throughout the season.
Later in the day, we had lunch at Hy-Vee – SO GOOD! – and then, we toured the farms!
This was a lot of fun. I live in Indiana, and there’s a whole lotta farmers out here, but I have never experienced it all, up close and personal. I mean, look at me, I’m on a combine! WITH my tall boots!
Farms and Heels… It should be a new reality show.
Look at the size and beauty of this equipment. To think that this is where it all starts, you can’t feel anything but appreciation for the people that work these lands.
You know what, though? Call me ignorant, call me whatever you like, but I was mostly surprised to learn that sweet corn, the corn that we eat, only accounts for 1% of the corn grown in Iowa. 99% of the corn grown is used for ethanol / fuel, animal feed, or products. Not for consumption?? I was shocked! I thought it was 99% sweet corn. It was one of my many “duh” moments… 😀
I was even more surprised to learn that very few crops are actually GMO. Soybeans, corn, canola, sugar beets, papaya and squash are GMO. AND Soy and corn crops are mainly used for animal feed. Interesting, right?
One of the other things that stuck with me was that everyone we spoke to was very open, genuine, and willing to answer any questions we had.
My absolute favorite part of the trip was our tailgate dinner on the farm.
Check out that smoker! There’s ham and chicken wings under there, and they were AMAZING! I stuffed myself to the rim, but I wish I had eaten some more. I can truly say that it was one of the best home cooked meals I have ever had. Best part of it all was that I felt like I was part of the family. Such welcoming people, these Iowans. In fact, I felt welcomed by all of the people I met, including our friends from Iowa Corn and the local farmers.
The following morning, right before we said our goodbyes, we were treated to a few hours at El Rio Spa & Wellness, where I got to enjoy a delicious lunch and a gorgeous manicure. Pretty nails for the WIN!
Thank you, Iowa Corn, for inviting me to join you for the 2015 Iowa CornQuest. It was one of the best learning experiences for me, and I enjoyed meeting all of you, including all the bloggers!