National Geographic : 1976 Jul
Two-thirds of the land is devoted to crops; corn to the right of me, soybeans to the left of me; a grain elevator, and more beans and knee-high corn for miles and miles, in enor mous squared-off patches. That's feed corn, mostly, for livestock; also for grits, for salad oil and margarine. A lot goes abroad. The grain elevators get bids several times daily, farmers follow prices anxiously; if you've got 42,000 bushels of corn, a day's fluctuation of ten cents means you're $4,200 richer or poorer. "It isn't so much how many bushels you get an acre," an extension agent tells me, "it's when you sell them. A farmer with grain in his bin is a speculator too." Past a corn-bordered shopping center, a golf course, a car dealer's lot, a huge mobile home park, I arrive in Bloomington, in Mc Lean County, largest in Illinois. It's said that 1,700 covered wagons rolled through here in a single month of 1854, headed west beyond Peoria to break more of the tallgrass prairie. Today, if a Bloomington builder wants to put up another tire or vacuum-cleaner plant, it may be permitted in the surrounding buffer zone-but beyond, (Continued on page 39) U. S. AIR FORCE Man-made Milky Way spangles close to half of the United States in this nighttime weather satellite view. Megalopolises blaze like supernovas-flaring symbols of a nation that devours 35 percent of the world's total energy output each year. Small towns along heavily devel oped highway corridors show up as glowing strands webbing the urban conglomerates. This Land of Ours-How Are We Using It?