I recently took a trip to Iowa to do some shooting for the PBS NewsHour Weekend series called “Future of Food” (it should be great, and I’ll keep you posted). While there are some good things happening, most of what I saw there made me incredibly depressed. So much so that I had to write a piece (below) about what agriculture in Iowa says not only about the state of of our industrial food system, but about the state of our democracy. I think it’s one of the more important stories I’ve written in a little while, and if you’re interested in the powerful systems that dictate food production in the United States, it might be worth a read. (And in case it’s too disheartening, I included some comfort food recipes below the article to cheer you up). Thanks for reading.
Fifty percent of the corn in Iowa is used to produce ethanol. Most of the rest goes to feed animals in confinement, almost all of which are behind closed doors in buildings designed for secrecy. There are 20 million hogs at any given moment in the state, and in four days of crisscrossing a patch northwest of Des Moines, I did not see one.
We produce reported pieces, profiles, interviews, and rants about what’s broken in the food world (there’s a lot) and how to change things for the better. People sometimes tell me to just keep politics out of it. Respectfully: No. Food is political. We can’t and won’t ignore that.