How to Save Farming From Itself

The “quiet emergency” created by industrial agriculture

Rachel Gardner (Flickr/rachelrusinski)
Rachel Gardner (Flickr/rachelrusinski)

For decades, we’ve been filling our plates with fruit and vegetables from California’s Central Valley and with meat fattened by the golden fields of the Corn Belt. But the future of almonds and soybeans looks grim. Industrial agriculture yields massive crops, but in the process destroys its own foundations: groundwater and topsoil. In his new book, Perilous Bounty, journalist and former farmer Tom Philpott explores the contradictions in our food supply by narrowing his focus to these agricultural essentials—water and earth. He reveals a “quiet emergency” happening on our fruited plains, profiles the farmers adapting old ways to a new era, and suggests ways we might reimagine not only the future of food, but that of the people who grow, pick, and package it.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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