Why pre-order a book? Right now, prices on everything are going up, but if you order the book now, the price is guaranteed. It’s available on all the usual sites (including Amazon and the publisher’s, U of IL Press).
This is a fun book filled with surprising tales and delightful destinations. I take you along as I explore a much-overlooked region, the American Midwest. Everyone from Wyatt Earp to Henry Ford is there. Don’t just read about history, but learn where you can explore more about Native Americans, the Pony Express, shipwrecks, the Underground Railroad, early pioneers, the Civil War, railroads, and a lot of stuff that will make you wonder why it got left out of your textbooks!!!
Don’t be scared by the price of the cloth-bound library version. That is for libraries. The general population version is paperback and only costs $19.95 — and the e-book is cheaper still. But you owe it to yourself to pursue this adventure. The Midwest and its past really are remarkable—and the present is pretty cool, too.
Continuing to post samples from my favorite farmer video channels, I’m taking you to Minnesota this time—so in the Midwest—and one of the four top corn-producing states in the nation. (All states grow corn, but more than 50 percent of all U.S. corn is grown in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota.) Contributing to that remarkable abundance of Midwestern corn is fifth-generation farmer Zach Johnson, known on YouTube as the MN Millennial Farmer.
Each of the farmer channels offers something different and has a different focus and approach, while still always including the key elements of family, history, and love for the land. Zach’s approach is more technical, offering explanations of what various tasks involve, what problems farmers run into, how things are taken care of, how equipment works, how to know when crops are ready to harvest, and more (though not all of these in every video). His videos are marked by enthusiasm and humor. And they are a wonderful source of insight into just how much work is involved in farming–but also how rewarding it is for those who love it.
Corn is not the only crop raised on Zach’s family’s farm, but since this blog is called Midwest Maize, I figured I’d offer a video that does show corn being harvested. Every video I watch makes me more grateful for the food I have and for the farmers who make it available.
Having posted photos and stories of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, I thought I should also mention that Mitchell is not by any means alone in honoring corn in a big way. Sure, it’s probably the most impressive and certainly the most complex of the monuments to corn here in the Midwest, but it’s not alone.
In Midwest Maize, I relate why Olivia, Minnesota, might actually feel justified in considering itself “The Corn Capital,” as the sign near the entrance to town announces, but simply being located in one of the country’s top four corn-growing states is a good starting point. This spring, I was invited to give my presentation—“How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else”—at the library in Olivia, which pleased me, given the area’s corn-centric economy. Someone in Olivia had supplied me with a photo of Olivia’s giant ear of corn, but when I visited, I was able to get my own shot of the big ear.
Several months earlier, I had visited another impressive monument to the golden grain in Dublin, Ohio, not far from Columbus. Here, an art installation titled “Field of Corn” features 109 concrete ears of corn that stand 6 feet, 3 inches tall. Worth noting is that it was not far from this area of Ohio that the Corn Belt actually started.
Clearly, the massive impact of corn on the Midwest is very much appreciated by those who live in the region.
I’m about to head out on the road again, across a large part of the Greater Midwest, both to promote my book, Midwest Maize, and to research my next one—plus seeing a few sights and visiting a friend.
If any of you live in Bismarck, ND, or Olivia, MN, there is a chance I could meet you. I’ll be doing a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Bismarck from 2-4 on Saturday May 23, and I’ll be presenting my new program, “How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else” at the public library in Olivia at 5:30 on May 27.
I’ll also be visiting the Corn Palace, in Mitchell, SD, which I expect to enjoy. My mind is still pretty filled with corny thoughts—not just trying to promote the book, but still in love with all the delightful people I’ve met who are involved in all aspects of it—breeding, growing, processing, selling, cooking—as well as with the wonderful stories and intriguing info I learned about its history. I love that I get to share this stuff!
That said, a few interviews along the way will help me prepare for the next book.
So I won’t be posting anything for a couple of weeks, but maybe I’ll run into some of my readers while I’m on the road.
This blog will relate discoveries made as I explore and study the Midwest. It will feature places I visited in pursuit of tales for my books but will also follow other threads of history, travel, and culture in the Heartland. For the remarkable tales of corn and its importance in the world and U.S., check out the book, Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland. For the fascinating tale of our earliest domesticated food animal, check out Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Bagonfest. I hope you’ll consider buying them. (And stay tuned for future titles.)
Eric Hoffer Award Winner
Midwest Independent Booksellers Association selection