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.
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.)