By Tony Hooker
I was born in Douglas County, near Arcola.
After a time, I went to live briefly in Stonington, IL before resettling on the south edge of Pesotum. There, my extended family and I were raised until we ultimately moved to Tuscola for a brief stay before heading on to Decatur. From Decatur, we found ourselves involved in all different sorts of industries, all over the world. Some of us went into the food and beverage industry. A lot of us work in the alcoholic beverage industry, while others went into the restaurant business in various roles.
A few of us went into the health and wellness industry, helping others maintain a healthy lifestyle through natural health solutions. Some of us ended up in the purified oil business, as well. Still others went into the livestock industry, focusing on healthy nutrition for all sorts of critters, including equine, poultry, rabbits, aquaculture, ruminants like cows and goats. Some of them even got to work with cats and dogs. Some members of my family ended up in the biofuels profession, where we helped to find alternatives to fossil fuel consumption. Other members of my family went into the industrial products industry, where we help to make chemicals, water repellents and wood preservatives, domestic packaging materials, personal care ingredients, bio-based plastics, and pulp and paper products.
That’s right, from a start right here in rural Central Illinois, my family and I have branched out to all areas of industry in all parts of the world. I don’t mean to brag, but it’s hard to imagine a world without me and my family in it. We’re working hard to come up with sustainable products in all walks of life, ending our dependence on finite resources and providing a broad spectrum of careers all around the world.
Who am I? Glycine max (L.) Merr. A proud member of the Fabaceae family.
That’s right. I’m a soybean, born in one of Mickey Williams’ Douglas County seed bean fields, raised, harvested and sent to Stonington, Illinois, where myself and my siblings got cleaned and processed and shipped back to Mickey, who sold me to Brad Johns, who planted and harvested us in a field just south of Pesotum before selling us to the ADM elevator in Tuscola. From there we went to processing plants in Decatur and elsewhere, and we were processed for use in all the aforementioned industries, plus a great many more. (Many thanks to Brad Johns and Mickey Williams for explaining their soybean operations to me.) It boggles my simple mind to know that something with humble beginnings, right here at home, plays such a vital global role in industry.
Also, surprisingly, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the United States, with 90-95 percent of all pumpkins raised for processing coming from the Land of Lincoln. According to the USDA, there were 15,900 acres of pumpkins raised in Illinois in 2020. Most of these acres are dedicated to pumpkins that will be processed for pie filling and other such products, rather than for jack o lanterns. I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween. Chances are an Illinois soybean was involved in making the costume, or the candy or the fuel that you used to ferry your kids around, trick or treating. Maybe it was even one of Brad’s.