The things I really enjoyed learning:
* I was unaware that a GMO corn seed will not reproduce with the same traits from one generation to the next if they’re saved and planted for next year. That’s why corn farmers buy new seed each year. I was informed there are farmers growing corn strictly for seed only. I was surprised to learn Biotech Engineering has farming down to a science.
* While I sat on a Case IH tractor there appeared to be a computer screen with the GPS navigation screen which looked very complicated to operate. It was very high tech. GPS was discovered by the United States military.
* It was amazing to learn that most Illinois farmers do not till their farms, they plant in between the rows of last year’s harvest and they no longer let the land rest every 7th year.
* I was disappointed to hear our government spent one million dollars for each windmill produced and planted into the ground of Illinois farms. We can see numerous windmills across various acres of Illinois Farms. All I can say is Wow.
* After I till my initial garden and use manure, I will plant and space my vegetables accordingly. I will experiment with what I learned. I will not remove my previous plant harvest just to see if there is a benefit to doing this?
* I understand the benefits of using GMO, I am just not convinced that it is 100% safe for human consumption.
I was surprised to learn that the Military discovered GPS technology. It was implemented into the planter so that farmer could navigate as he planted seed in the fields. Now, with high-tech farming, the farmer has a GPS receiver on his machinery, which is connected to a laptop or task computer that already has a stored database of optimal field requirements for fertilization. The computer runs a program that controls the mixing of nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium—for fertilization and spreads them as needed as the farmer drives across the field. With GPS, producers can identify the exact places that soil fertility changes. Farmers have farmers insurance for drought, tornadoes, or flooding. Last year, many Illinois Farmers actually filed claims because we didn't have much rain in Illinois. They had a fifty percent crop loss.
There is a big debate regarding GMO's. What is GMO? An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered using the techniques of genetic engineering. When I asked the question, can you plant the seed from a GMO corn? I was told there are farms strictly used for seed production only because of the way corn is pollinated in the hybridization process! We were told the reason why farmers are using GMO, we were told it’s efficient, it saves money, it’s a responsible way to grow crops. 53 percent of the corn produced is Illinois is for export, 7 percent animal feed, 15 percent processing for other food and products and 25 percent for Ethanol for the gas pump. The United States produces 32 percent of the world's corn.
Corn is a key ingredient in many food items like cereal, peanut butter, snacks foods and soft drinks. And candy bars, potato chips, hot dog buns, ketchup, mustard, cookies, bubble gum and even ice cream all include ingredients derived from corn. In the 1990s, the genetic modified crops were cotton, corn and soybean seeds. They discovered farmers were increasing crop yields, reducing the constant need to clear more land for growth. Seeds are resistant to drought and pests especially where crop losses are often severe. I would like some studies showing proof there are no health risks to humans.
Michael Taylor, former Vice President of Public Policy at biotech giant and major GMO producer Monsanto, is now a Deputy Commissioner for the FDA. Members of our Senate as well as our House of Representatives, even Hillary Clinton, they all have ties to Monsanto. I think we should all write our politicians so that a bill is passed labeling GMO on all food products for human consumption. I want to be an informed consumer.
I am excited to learn that NASCAR has been using E-15 in all their race cars. E-15 in NASCAR is a fuel made from corn based ethanol. NASCAR is "going green" by using a renewable fuel. Processing plants make soy oil, which goes into soy bio diesel fuel, which can do what other fuels can’t. Bio diesel is non-toxic and is clean and safe for the environment. Illinois corn farmers invest in the Illinois corn checkoff program. Among other things, this program pools money for the the stadium for the CornBelters in Normal, Illinois.
My mother’s philosophy, it’s better to pay more for better quality! My children could attest to Kraft mac and cheese is better than store brand so, I believe this holds true for many items we purchase at the grocery store. The best time to buy sweet corn is between July 4th through July 15th. On Jeschke’s farm, they can plant one acre of field corn in 2 minutes, 30 acres in one hour. They plant 15 different varieties of corn and they never plant more than 20 percent of any one kind of variety of seed. (One acre is equal to a football field or 4,840 square yards.)
If you plant seeds in damp soil the seeds could rot. Most farmer's use John Deere planter which is green, Case IH which is fire engine red or a Kinzie planter. I was surprised to learn Illinois Farmers do not till the land like their predecessor farmers. If they planted corn, they will plant soy the following year. Soy needs 113 days until ready for picking. In the past, they would let the soil rest every 7 years. They use Round Up to kill the weeds.
On the farm, we learned that organic food doesn’t necessarily mean that there is less risk. Paul mentioned a tragic event in Europe which occurred in 2011 where 3,950 people were affected and 53 died, including 51 in Germany from risks involving the E. coli risk in raw bean sprout production. A rare strain of Escherichia coli O104:H4 bacteria caused a serious outbreak of foodborne illness focused in northern Germany. The illness was characterized by bloody diarrhea, with a high frequency of serious complications, including hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that requires urgent treatment. A handful of cases were reported in several other countries including Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada and the U.S. Essentially all affected people had been in Germany or France shortly before becoming ill.
My biggest concern when I purchase fruit and vegetables for my family that I am very careful with clean utensils to avoid cross contamination. Due to what occurred on Aug 17, 2012 – The outbreak traced to the cantaloupe began in early July and was traced to a Colorado farm and killed 30 people across 11 states last year.
It is always important to rinse your fruits and vegetables especially your melons with dish soap. Pest control substances can harbor harmful bacteria or chemicals. Also, avoid cross contamination, abide by correct cooking procedures, refrigeration and freezing.
Amazing Soybean Facts
It can be planted in May or June, in rows of 7 to 30 inches apart. Fertilizers are used to provide additional nutrients to the soil. Roundup is used to control weeds. It may be 3 feet tall. Flowers appear producing pods, the flowers can be pink, purple or white. Beans take 30 to 40 days. Each pod contains two or three beans. Generally, they are ready for harvest in September or October. Farmers either sell directly to commercial elevators or store in their bins until ready to sell. After the soybean is harvested, it can be processed into soy flour, soy concentrates and soy isolates. Soy flour is a high protein for baking goods. Soy concentrates are found in protein drinks, soups and gravies. Soy isolates are found in cheese, milk and nondairy frozen desserts.
Helen Kolodynski, Chicago