Monday, August 15, 2011

Traveling Through the American Heartland

It has become a yearly tradition to travel to grandpa’s house in Minnesota.  The Midwest region of the United States of America is known as the “American Heartland.”  The Heartland’s primary role for the rest of the country is manufacturing and farming.  We saw mostly farming since we avoid driving through the big cities. 
This past weekend we got our reliable Venture van ready to make the 1,000 mile trek.  Starting in Cincinnati, Ohio, we drove west on I-74 through Indiana, then Illinois, Wisconsin, and arriving in Minnesota a day later.  

How do you bring excitement to a trip which consists of bathroom stops, lunch breaks and one sleep-over?  We know the route very well, and met with only a few constructions and detours.   When we were driving through the cornfields of Illinois I couldn’t help but think of the farmers which provide our food and fill our grocery stores.  I got into a deep state of gratitude for their tireless labor and dedication.  They are certainly not on the job 9-5, five days a week.  Especially, during the summer and during harvest season, they work deep into the night and bring in the crops.
Maybe we should start a campaign with green ribbons for their service for the country.  Most people, shopping in the cities’ grocery stores have no thoughts of were their food is coming from.  The life on the farm is a life of sacrifice and often of uncertainty, because the harvest depends on so many factors.  One of them being the weather, the other the general market prices, and last but not least the economy.  But there are so many rewards for farm life.  The greatest being, at least from my perspective, that it is a family business.  In fact, the reason that in the past farmers had lots of children was that they had more hands to do the farm work.

From the website America’s Heartland I learned some interesting facts about corn:
Corn or maize is a grain and not a vegetable. It is grown around the world as one of the most widely used food staples.  It is processed into oil, corn syrup, corn starch, and flour.  Its other important use is as animal feed and can also be transformed into industrial products such as ethanol and polyactic acid (PLA).  The USA is the largest corn producer in the world, farming about 50% of the world’s harvest. 

Here are some fun facts about corn:
* There are about 800 kernels in 16 rows on each ear of corn.
* The corncob (ear) is actually part of the corn plant's flower.
* The main ingredient in most dry pet food is corn.

Sweet corn, feed corn, and pop corn require different seeds.  Today, farmers have developed many hybrid forms which give bigger and better yields.  Unfortunately, some people are allergic to corn.

Through working together as a family, the parents can teach their children hands-on values.  The unity of a family can produce not only a “great crop” but also healthy relationships.  It is in the family that children learn to love, the give, and to be selfless.  So the heartland is truly the breading-ground for American values.
Deep in my thoughts, the landscape changed, and we arrived at the tourist country of the Wisconsin Dells.  Exit after exit big bill boards enticed us to visit the water slides and boat rides.  All of this amusement is also provided for family fun.  This time we only had one thing in mind, getting to grandpa’s home. 
The best thing for us: our daughter and her husband came from Germany, and we traveled together as a family.  That was entertainment enough and exciting news for us: we are going to be grandparents.  Wherever we went to visit, grandpa came along, sharing lunches (dinners) and dinners (suppers) with the rest of the extended family.  We had a lot of fun and laughed out loud, isn’t that relaxing?

1 comment:

Yusun said...

it was very nice eating all that sweet corn. :) next time we'll drive back through michigan!