If you like to eat, you should like Illinois

More food passes through the Prairie State than any other state in the nation, according to a new study published by University of Illinois Professor Megan Konar. She contends that Illinois is the most critical hub in US domestic food transportation.

Nearly 20 percent of the food Americans eat moves through Illinois – more than 70 million tons per year. That’s enough to keep everyone who lives in the state eating for five and a half years.

As the Food and Agricultural Roadmap for Illinois partnership points out, Illinois has many unique competitive advantages that have turned it into one of the world’s major food hubs. Its fertile soil means it is one of the top states in corn and soybean production every year, and it is the world’s largest producer of several specialty crops.

The state also ranks first in food processing sales and is home to CME – the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace.

Another key factor in Illinois’ position as a global food hub is its access to extensive transportation networks, including more than 1,400 miles of navigable waterways, the world’s busiest airport, more than 2,000 miles of interstate highway and every Class 1 railroad that operates in the United States. The partnership is working on a plan to help make sure Illinois holds onto this important economic position in the 21st century.


You may have seen recent news that Illinois is home to the tallest cow in the US. At 6'4", Blosom surpassed the average 5' height for Holsteins. She never had a calf, so she never produced milk and resides as a happy family pet.

What you may not know is that dairying in Illinois includes 1,117 dairy farmers and 90 processing plants, whose industry generates $8 billion a year for the Illinois economy and 11,600 Illinois jobs.

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There is a good chance the pumpkins you carve, use as ornamental fall decorations or as pie filling for your holiday treats came from Central Illinois. 

Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin production, with a swath of land near Peoria producing most of the state’s pumpkin crop. Morton, Illinois is commonly referred to as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World”, hosting the annual Morton Pumpkin Festival and home to a Libby's pumpkin processing plant.

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Illinois leads in soybean production

Rows of green soybeans are a common sight in the fertile farm fields of Illinois. The typically three-foot high crop breaks up the sometimes monotonous rows of corn fields that Illinois is most famous for.

While Illinois produces significantly more corn per year, the state ranks first in the country in annual soybean production.

Even if you’re surrounded by soybean fields, you may not be aware of how often you come in contact with Illinois-grown soybeans.

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