Chewing on the idea of a crunchy Fort Madison


I just don't get it.

If someone would have asked me a month ago if I thought Fort Madison could pull off being "crunchy", I would have thought they were talking about its age or maybe some sections of pavement.

But the term came up at one of Mayor Matt Mohrfeld's pillar talk roundtables when he was looking at what it would take to help reach a goal of 1,000 new Fort Madison residents in the next four years.

We've been talking family recruitment and how to market the community to people who may be looking to get back to Iowa-friendly.

It was made clear early on that, although a reporter was in the room, people should feel free to speak their minds without fear of being put in front of 10,000 plus readers.

Then someone said something that just can't be left to the walls of the Fort Madison Chamber meeting room. It was suggested that maybe we investigate "crunchy" neighborhoods.

I'm a man of transparency, almost to a fault. Many times I should keep my mouth shut, but most times I choose to speak my mind, and usually regret it. So when someone suggested crunchy as a way of life I let it go for just a few seconds. And then I let up on the brakes.


"You've never heard of crunchy?"

The Mayor jumped in. "Wait, you're the wordsmith in the room and you've never heard "crunchy"?

Well yeah, if you're talking a pickle or peanut butter. (Don't get me started on that age-old argument. If your peanut butter isn't crunchy, you're not allowed Ritz, bread...or chili.)

Immediately I Googled "Crunchy-slang".

Hippie - or you just came out of the woods in sandals with a handful of granola, hence the crunchy.

Someone took a pathway from the type of person who would eat granola in the woods into an entire way of life. Crunchy.

Where the heck have I been that I didn't know that was a thing. When you do a search for 'crunchy neighborhoods', the first thing that pops up is the "Best Hippie Town in Every State in America".

Shut the front door. Crunchy is the new term for hippie or counter-culture nature lover culled from the concept of granola.

I'm now thinking of Darla's Downtown Summer Festival, except she's all hippied out and the throngs of people moving up and down Avenue G are wearing bell bottoms and head bands and really big sunglasses with patchouli filling the air. I've since learned that is the smell of wet dirt.

In my search, I had to scroll quickly down to see which town in Iowa is labeled as the Hippiest Town in Iowa.

Decorah wins. Decorah apparently is also the beekeeping capital of the state, a dynamic that came about to combat the high pollen count of the area. You'll obviously also find a lot of honey there. And there's the liberal arts Luther College in town.

Should we be looking for an infusion of crunchy in our town? I would imagine some people would say yes, and some people are like me and still have a crinkled up nose and squinty eyes trying to visualize a crunchy town.

It just makes me hungry.

But...why not. We've got some creative thinkers at River Rocks with Dave Taylor and the crew. We've got fresh smoothies at Riverside Nutrition and more creativity at Swed & Co Coffee. We just need a head shop and gelato front and we're in.

It also ties into the natural assets of the area. We've got an ever-growing PORT trail, timber trails, kayaking and canoeing on the Mississippi River, state parks within 20 minutes of town, county parks all over the place.

So crunchy just might work. The liberal overtones might rankle some, but the concept could be just one of the pieces to the puzzle.

It's interesting to hear about the conversations that are ongoing about boosting the town's population as a new marina takes form, store fronts fill up, roads get repaired, and sewers get upgraded.

Chew on this while you're thinking "crunchy". Is Fort Madison quietly becoming a community that people are taking notice of? I grew up in the Burlington/West Burlington area and many of those people are talking about the energy of Fort Madison and Lee County.

People at the state level are looking our direction for what's happening with the Southeast Iowa Regional & Economic Port Authority, the Career Advantage Center, housing improvement projects. With improvements that are coming to our school facilities and the beautification efforts that are taking place around the community, maybe a four-year plan isn't too aggressive.

But either way, thinking of a crunchy Fort Madison makes me want to get out the Brownberry and JIF, maybe a banana, or Miracle Whip. I've said it before. Crunchy peanut butter and miracle whip is a delicacy in my mind. And you can't post anything on that until you try it - But that's Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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