At The Farm Gate: In the Bag – Pizza Project Promotes the Families in Farming

At the Farm Gate - Joanie Stiers.2

For years, I triggered curious looks from fellow restaurant patrons while holding my commercial-sized pizza delivery bag. Nowadays, I get asked if I’m with DoorDash, a food delivery service.

Until recently, the presence of this red pizza bag felt so unorthodox that my husband and kids were too embarrassed to show it in public. But I had no shame for the sake of hot pizza and took that bag right inside the front doors of Casey’s General Store or other pizza places during an era when only delivery drivers carried them.

We live 30 minutes from a city with significant grocery shopping and restaurant options. We clock 15 minutes from the nearest Casey’s, where we frequently order pizza. I permanently carry a cooler in my van, too.

Appropriately timed, National Pizza Month falls in October during the heart of the harvest season when pizza pickups equally deliver “pick-me-ups” for the harvest crew. Field meals provide a moment to look forward to in a 12-plus-hour harvest day. And this year, Casey’s teamed with the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois commodity groups to use pizza to promote the “We are the 96%” Campaign in celebration of the family farmer.

Contrary to common belief, families – not corporations – own and operate 96% of Illinois farms. Farm groups and Casey’s sought to debunk the corporate myth with images of Illinois farm families like ours in self-stick flyers on 250,000 Casey’s pizza boxes statewide in the month of October.

Three generations of our family and employees make up our harvest crew, and the pizza bag performs. It maintains warmth for up to 10 meals in Styrofoam containers and up to five large pizzas, one more than advertised. The bag doubles as an over-sized soft cooler when I throw in some ice packs and certainly makes my list of favorite things. Today, I own pizza bags for two vehicles. My sister-in-law owns one. My mom, three. Collectively, we can handle delivery for the annual 4-H pizza party for 100 people.

“Is Grandma bringing food?” our son often texts from the tractor with grain cart during the 5 o’clock hour. Our now-15-year-old asked the same question at age 4 when he visited the fields during harvest. Now he’s working in them.

Yes, and by family tradition, expect pizza one night a week.


About the author: Joanie Stiers farms with her family in West-Central Illinois, where they grow corn, soybeans, hay and cover crops and raise beef cattle, backyard chickens and farmkids.


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