I used my tour book, Stay on Route 6, to find interesting activities to break up our road days. One worthwhile stop was the Maytag Dairy. In the early part of the 20th century a member of the famous appliance-making company started a dairy, and in the 1940s was lured by a new process created by scientists at the University of Iowa – blue cheese. In France, the cheese is aged in caves with a particular type of mold present. The U of I scientists figured out how to capture that strain of mold, reproduce it, and add it to milk curds, allowing the curds to mature into American-made blue cheese.
There is no longer a tour of the barns and cheese factory, production is so large (a million pounds a year) that the dairy no longer has its own herds, instead buying milk from Iowa farmers. And to have factory tours a lot of expensive infrastructure to separate food manufacturing areas from the public is needed, so I watched a nice, if out-dated, video of the company history and got a tour of the office, which included the packaging room where people still wrap at least some of the wedges by hand.
Just a few miles east on Route 6 is Grinnell, Iowa. Grinnell College is there, so I cruised downtown looking for a store with some interesting food that would get me down the road for the next couple days.
In the park I learned that Grinnell was on the underground railroad in slavery days.
My tour ended at a deli with a good sandwich, healthy snacks, and some takeout soup that made for fine road-meals until I got across Ohio and Pennsylvania to Kathy and Ben’s. Home-raised and home-cooked food, familiar roads – that was sounding pretty good after so long away from home.