The first thing that struck me about Iowa was that it was just how I’d pictured it. Farm after farm, and miles of crops as far as the eye could see. What did surprise me was realizing that America’s farms are changing from family owned and operated to large factory farms. While time marches on and progress moves forward, a way of life is slowly disappearing along with it’s culture and it’s values. It’s a razors edge we walk in trying to improve the quality of our food supply while producing more and more of it. I felt that struggle deeply, seeing rows of corn labeled with strange scientific codes marking different strains and realizing that America’s family farms are becoming fewer and far between.
And with a change in that wholesome way of life, came some other changes we noticed as well that broke our heart. On our way to Minnesota, we needed to stop to refuel the car and our stomachs…We ended up in a tiny little town—so tiny in fact that the ONLY restaurant was a Pizza Hut. It was such a surreal experience, because this Pizza Hut was the place to be. Everyone was dressed up as it seemed in this town having lunch in a restaurant was a really big deal. Sadly, the menu left a lot to be desired. This is what we found at the buffet: 3 different kinds of pizza, breadsticks, some half-dead lettuce with s few strips of carrots and cabbage (which no one was touching), and cinnamon sticks for desert (pizza dough with cinnamon sugar on top). Talk about a simple carb overload. It was so sad, because as my kids and I looked around, everyone in that restaurant must have weighed easily over 200 lbs. It was truly heartbreaking. These people all looked like they lived on farms and instead of eating healthy, nutritious meals that they could easily prepare at home with farm fresh produce, they chose to indulge in a ton of empty calories that do nothing but wreak havoc on their bodies. Afterward, my kids and I had a terrific conversation about healthy eating and good nutrition but I was truly saddened by what I saw. The old ways of growing and preparing farm fresh food are giving way to factory produced over processed items that are not only destroying a way of life but also destroying our bodies.
I hope Iowa finds a way to move forward into the future while keeping intact those old fashioned values that are such an important part of the Iowa legacy. Iowa feeds all of us, and I hope an pray that the Iowa family farm remains an important part of the American landscape and doesn’t turn into a charming distant memory that we’ll visit in a living history museum.