Soapbox Time: the Midwest

I was born in Michigan and now live among highly educated East Coast types, who refer to my homeland as ‘flyover country.’  As if that weren’t bad enough, when something happens in Minnesota, they may gesture vaguely north and west and say “out there in Mich-zouri, right?”

Enough with this verbal and geographic ignorance! I can hardly imagine Michigan and Missouri in the same sentence, they are such different places. The American Midwest is an awesome slice of territory, upon which we all depend for food, fuel, industry, and even culture (seriously. click the link).
Most of us are a little vague about what the Midwest is. Fortunately this post from Vox goes into glorious detail about my home region. The current Census definition is based on the area’s evolution from ‘Northwest territories’ to ‘North Central Division,’ which now includes the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Those pale pink states, plus Oklahoma and Kentucky do not qualify.


we even have our own ships

That is a serious chunk of real estate, smaller than Australia, but larger than Mexico. It’s function as the breadbasket is due to the lucky confluence of climate and excellent soils plowed down by the glaciers which also carved the Great Lakes.

The population is slightly larger than France. And if it were a country, it would have the 6th largest economy in the world, sandwiched between Russia and Brazil.

So, think about that next time you enjoy your corn (in the form of soda, beef, packaged food, gasoline, and so much more.)


One comment

  1. Patrise–

    I DON’T EVEN WANT TO TAKE PART IN THIS CONVERSATION! But I can’t resist. Even though Michigan and Illinois may be considered part of the Midwest, here’s how it looks to this New Yorker. If you come from Chicago or Detroit, with me you count as an Easterner (which I obviously think is superior, especially the Northeast). If you come from DC, you are partly an Easterner but watch out the South (ugh!)still has you by the coattails. And who made up the term Mid-Atlantic? Some geographer, I guess. I have no idea where North Central is. But there’s a big amorphous area called the Midwest with lots of farms and corn, and it includes Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota and Wisconsin.The Southeast, Deep South and Southwest are supposed to be separate regions (I think); Deep South and Southeast seem all of a piece to me but the Southwest is maybe OK until you get to Texas which should be ceded to Mexico to solve our border problems and make a dent in a few other problems, like guns, an overload of machismo etc. Anything between the West Coast and the East must be must be Midwest (except Nevada, I guess) and who knows what the Dakotas are. They probably should be ceded back to Native Americans. And oh, yes, Utah! That’s definitely West and should be ceded to someone.



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