Bad Crop

I read Corby Kummer’s review of Tom Philpott’s new book called Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It. Here is what I learned.

There are global environmental consequences to the American way of raising food.

The economics of farming have always been perilous along with the depletion of topsoil caused by monoculture. Mass animal farming contributes to climate change and can make tap water toxic.

There are small-scale and regenerative farming which can be biodynamic, organic and replenishing to the soil.

There are toxic pig-manure lagoons in Iowa where the state houses seven hogs for every human being, yet they produce as much manure as 28 hogs per resident. Add in cattle and chickens and you’ve got 55 fecal equivalents’ for every actual person in Iowa.

Animal factory farming includes a history of disregard for worker safety.

Some media to check out on the topic: Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation (which took up where Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” left off. Ted Genoways’s “The Chain.”

Covid-19 easily spreads through slaughter houses where there has been shown a chilling indifference to illness and death in many of the country’s most vulnerable workers. We absolve factory owners even though they abandon worker-safety enforcement.

There is craven coddling of the fertilizer industry.

Who profits? Not farmers. Not consumers. One of Philpott’s answers is land owners, including many foreign buyers. Who else wins? Companies that sell fertilizers, seeds and pesticides–four “massive companies” that “loom over the $11 billion U.S. fertilizer markets” and “a ‘Big Six’ of agrochemical seed companies who design their products to work like interlocking hardware and software.