Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and this post is dedicated to all the farmers in this great country of ours, who are growing our food and allowing us to have food to feed our families.
Through this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of fellow food bloggers, attend conferences and go on some pretty great press trips.
This year, through TASTE: Unearthing the Art and Science of Food, hosted by an organization called, Best Food Facts*, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some farmer food bloggers and visit a family owned strawberry patch, a dairy farm and tour Tyson’s Test Kitchens and Discovery Center. In our last trip to IL, we visited Spirit Farms, a diverse modern day farm, specializing in row crop production and farm management and they focus on growing corn.
Spirit Farms is owned and operated by the Stewart family and we had the honor of meeting with Michelle Stewart and her family. Her dedication to forward progress of farming, custom farming solutions, sustainable agronomy practices and respectful land stewardship was very clear. And her dedication and love for her farm, what she does and giving back to her community, was even more visible.
I was so touched by what she is doing, and what farmers are doing in general. Farmers have such a hard, very labor intensive job, and they don’t get enough respect for what they do. It’s because of farmers, that we are able to have food to eat, crops for other uses and raw materials for industrial use. They are really what keeps our nation moving and growing.
I also had the pleasure of getting to know Jenny, a farmer’s wife at Rohrich Farms, writer, photographer and recipe developer behind the blog, Prairie Californian.
Rohrich Farms was originally started in South Central North Dakota in 1946. The first generation was Grandpa Claude Rohrich and his wife, Katie. Today, they continue to farm in the very same location and are currently raising the fourth generation on the farm. Rohrich Farms is made up of the second generation, Thomas and Mary, third generation Mark and Jenny, and third generation Allan and Becky. They grow four primary crops: wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers, all of which they sell into the commodity market.
The majority of the corn grown in the United States is what is called field (or dent) corn. Field corn is what 98% of the corn grown in the United States is. Corn has food, feed, and industrial uses. That sweet, delicious corn we all love and enjoy at the supper table, it is called sweet corn.
Field corn is very different from sweet corn, mainly in that it doesn’t taste good off the cob. While sweet corn is harvested while the husk is still green and the corn is full of moisture and plump, field corn is harvested when the husks are dried and brown and the inside corn cobs have lost moisture and dimpled. Farmers call it dented, hence the name dent corn.
Farming is part of the legacy of Mark and Jenny’s family. For three generations, farming has kept food on their tables, a roof over their heads, and taught them so many life lessons.
I asked Jenny a few questions about farming that I wanted to share today.
What is the most challenging thing you face as a farmer?
The most challenging things for our farm are battling extreme weather and ever-changing grain commodity markets. Weather is sort of like Goldilocks, it has to be just right. Too much rain or not enough rain, early snow or frost, high winds, or hail can have the potential to destroy our crops completely. Or small spells of extreme weather can reduce yield or yield potential for our crops.
Grain prices are something we are always monitoring as it is how we get paid for the crops we grow. Selling our crops into a commodity market really makes us think on a global scale. We have to pay attention to what corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and wheat are doing worldwide in order to make informed decisions on when to sell the grain we grow on our farm.
What are your top concerns or the most important things you want consumers to know about corn or seeds to grow corn?
There seems to be this idea that farmers have no choice when it comes to the seed we choose to plant or that large corporations force it upon us. Both of these are myths.
Just as you have the choice on what seeds to purchase from your favorite garden store, we have the choice on what we want to buy from our favorite seed company or maybe even a variety of companies. Farmers don’t only feel like we have a choice, we are happy that we have a choice. It is important that we have a choice in the seed we choose for our farms because not every system or seed type is a fit for every operation. There is no one solution fits all when it comes to seed.
Farmers today have a choice between conventional seed, or hybrids & GE (genetically engineered) seeds. Regardless of what type of seed you choose, there are many different things factoring into seed choice.
Both Mark and Jenny have taken to social media to share with people far removed from Agriculture about what goes on at Rohrich Farms. Jenny started her blog, Prairie Californian, where she strives to bridge the gap by giving people insight into daily life on their farm as well as shedding light on some hot button topics in Agriculture. She also shares recipes, photography, and other lifestyle topics.
On honor of Jenny, and all this talk of corn, I made Corn Soufflés! These are extremely EASY to make and would make a great side dish or appetizer for your holiday table. I hope you enjoy and give these a try!
Thank you, Jenny, for talking with us today and for the photos of the corn harvest that you provided.
Wishing EVERYONE a very happy Thanksgiving!!
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, to grease the soufflé molds
- 1 (15.25 oz.) can sweet whole kernel corn
- ½ cup Gruyere cheese, cut into chunks
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, diced
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Use the tablespoon of butter to grease the soufflé molds. Set aside.
- Using your food processor, pulse together the corn, Gruyère cheese, heavy cream, eggs, and season with salt and pepper, until combined but not completely smooth. I like my soufflés with a little texture but feel free to pulse until smooth if desired. Mix in the chives and pour the corn mixture evenly into the prepared soufflé molds.
- Place molds onto a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until puffy, golden and set. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Jacques Pépin
Best Food Facts is a not for profit organization that provides information about the foods we eat, where food comes from and everything in between. They engage with University-based experts (PhDs and RDs) who have either completed or reviewed research on a specific topic being discussed.
You can find interviews, video and articles about a lot of important food news and controversial food topics that people are talking about currently on their website.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in partnership with Best Food Facts. I was compensated for my time in writing this blog post. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to share about the organizations and companies that I have the honor of meeting and working with.