At this point of the harvest season, Illinois farmers are 95% done harvesting corn and 93% done with soybeans, according to the USDA. Farmers work long and inconsistent hours throughout harvest to accomplish everything that must be done on a strict time schedule. There is usually a pretty small window where weather conditions and each individual field conditions line up to where it is ideal to harvest. You can see farmers out in the field early in the morning or late in the night. On average, farmers will work 80 hour work weeks during harvest. The unusual hours and stressful conditions make us consider many things about what it would be like to be in those farmer’s shoes. However, today we dive deeper into one important question: What does a farmer eat while they are harvesting their crop? We hear what local farmers have to say as an answer.
Darren Davis farms around McLean, IL, where he has roughly 1,200 acres of farm ground. He said that the food he eats varys, but about half the time he will just eat snack food. His go-to snacks include: chips, Ritz crackers (which are his main snack), peanut M&M’s, or Reese’s. If he has the option, he will choose the tree or egg Reese’s because “they have a better peanut butter to chocolate ratio than the Reese’s cups”.
Matt Boudeman farms about 1,800 acres in Tazewell County. He will pack his own lunch, which usually consists of a cold meat ham and cheese sandwich. Sometimes he will have a roast beef sandwich with salt & vinegar potato chips, but not very often. His meals are usually more simple than that. He will drink soda and water while in the combine. Matt is the sole operator on his farm, which he explains “is challenging because of his role with his Progressive Ag Services business also.” He continued, “It is challenging to be in all of the different places at the same time.”
Austin Elgin is a farmer out of Danvers, IL. He harvests for his fields and other farmers and harvests roughly 3,600-3,800 acres throughout the season, sometimes a little more. For breakfast, you will find Austin drinking coffee. At lunchtime, he will eat a cold meat sandwich, a bag of chips, and sometimes a cup of applesauce or pudding. He will load his fridge in the combine with Reese’s and Snickers as snacks. For supper, someone typically brings him a hot meal. The hot meal could be casserole (one common one is Shepherd's Pie), lasagna or spaghetti, pork burgers, roast beef or italian beef, burgers, etc. with a salad, bread and butter, and sometimes dessert. Austin said, “It is always a really good hot meal.” Others snacks may be cheese and crackers or junk food snacks. He always will try to get the Feed the Farmers meal from Olympia FFA every year.
Darren, Matt, and Austin all make the effort to get the Feed the Farmers meal each year. Feed the Farmers is an event that the Olympia FFA Chapter puts together annually to feed the farmers in our community during harvest. They choose one night where they put together a meal and hand them out at 6 grain elevators throughout our small towns as a “thank you” for all of the work that the farmers put in each harvest. This year, Olympia FFA distributed almost 400 meals! The meals consisted of a pork burger, chips, a cookie, and a drink (drink provided by the grain elevators). Farmers always show great appreciation for the meal through “thank yous”, donations to the FFA chapter, and more.