OK, folks. Thousands of you have requested photos of the BUTTER COW from the Illinois State Fair. As a follow-up to Clint Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention, we really can’t get any more exciting. So you’ll have to wait a little longer for the stories about Costa Rica. Here’s the cow we saw three years ago on the last day of the state fair. The diorama was complete.
This year we made it to the first day of the fair, so the diorama was still mostly a figment of the sculptor’s imagination. Here’s what we saw:
According to Wikipedia, butter sculpture has a long and storied history, dating as far back as 1536 where it was used to decorate banquet tables. But in those years, before the last bit of bread sopped up the last bit of gravy, the butter probably ended up in someone’s stomach.
Today, I wonder where all this butter hits the road. Supposedly, about 500-600 pounds are used, the equivalent of 2,400 sticks, enough to make 42,000 cookies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_sculpture). So the waste could be substantial. But maybe with farm subsidies being what they are (and I know a lot of farmers who think the subsidies are just a wee bit toooo generous), no one misses a few hundred pounds of butter.
In Minnesota, however, (yes, more facts from Wikipedia) there’s never been a butter cow at the state fair. Instead, they sculpt a different Milky Way princess every day of the fair, with each princess taking her own likeness home at the end of the fair–to eat if she wishes. Minnesotans are a special breed. I can’t help making the leap from the question, “That would be your partner in the woodchipper?” [name that movie] to “That would be your face in the butter?” Now tell me, could you take a butter knife to your own eye?
If you can’t get enough of butter sculpture, check out this blog: http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/08/butter-sculptures-state-fairs-shawn-johnson-elvis-obama-mccain-jesus-vader.html
More news from the Heartland: A friend of my brother’s from his early years in 4-H knows which side his corn is buttered on. He sold his Precision Planting operation (http://www.precisionplanting.com/) to Monsanto, the evil AG empire, for about $250 million this past May. At least it didn’t involve the GMO corn Monsanto has developed that contains its own insecticide to fight bugs while it grows. Monsanto says the corn being sold to consumers doesn’t contain any active insecticide residue. But various animal studies suggest otherwise. Google it for yourself. I admire the “thinking outside the box,” but someone has to rein in the engineers who might be a little lost in the weeds.
With my classic Midwestern naivete, I always thought that GMO was just a faster version of the way we crossbreed plants to be healthier, stronger, more insect and drought resistant. Now that I know what GMO truly means, I’m siding with the Europeans. Don’t make me eat that stuff!
So as I type, the Midwest is getting a real soaking from Tropical Storm Isaac, one that will probably be way too late to save the corn and soybeans or just about anything else that’s trying to grow.
Farming has always been a crapshoot, and this year Mother Nature has let no one in the Heartland keep their chips.
On the other hand, the farmers here in California, the organic growers and the CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), are having a banner year with fabulous tomatoes and stone fruit. I just brought a flat of heirloom tomatoes home today from a local CSA. Pardon me while I go drop a little olive oil on some fresh mozzarella and a few sliced Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, and Green Zebras.
Happy Labor Day Weekend! Ciao, Ciao, chow!