The American approach to food production is negatively impacting the environment and depleting natural resources like topsoil and groundwater at an alarming rate. Top agriculture author, journalist, and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future research associate Tom Philpott highlights these problems on this episode first by discussing two regions where such impacts are acutely felt, the Central Valley of California and the Great Plains, and then explains how these problems are spreading to the rest of the globe.
But the author of Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It, Philpott also says there's hope via sustainable practices like agroecology and agroforestry, new land tenure models, and more.
A former food reporter and editor for Mother Jones and Grist, he discusses steps that can be taken to reform our food systems for a healthier and more sustainable future at this moment as a new growing season is about to begin in the Northern Hemisphere.
“We don’t have to have an agriculture that consumes the very ecologies that make it possible, and leads to this catastrophic loss of species that we’re in the middle of right now,” our guest says.
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Image caption: Corn is a common food and fodder crop of the Great Plains, and has also long been used to make ethanol. But its most common cultivation methods lead to massive soil erosion, pollution of waterways, and heavy use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. Image courtesy of Tyler Lark.