Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It

Tom Philpott. Bloomsbury, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-1-63557-313-8
Journalist Philpott debuts with an illuminating and distressing examination of how climate change and poor natural resource management threaten America’s food supply. Focusing on California’s Central Valley, where irrigated farms supply a quarter of the nation’s food, and the Midwest, which produces much of America’s meat, corn, and soybeans, Philpott documents how agribusinesses in these regions are “actively consuming the ecological foundations that support agriculture itself.” In arid California, warmer temperatures have diminished the Sierra Nevada snowpack on which Central Valley farms rely, leading to fewer crops and smaller yields. Communities in the region have also been forced to buy bottled water to avoid water supplies contaminated by farm runoff. In the former prairie lands of the Midwest, industrialized farming, genetically modified crops, and climate change have impoverished both the soil and farmers themselves. Philpott’s proposed solutions draw from organic farming methods, including crop rotation, planting cover crops to suppress weeds and reduce soil erosion, and “pasture-based meat production.” He concludes by endorsing the Green New Deal and legislative efforts to curb the excesses of agribusiness. Lucidly written, well-researched, and laced with profiles of farmers and communities fighting against the odds, this is a persuasive call for sweeping changes to the American food system. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 08/24/2020
Release date: 07/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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