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Mark Bittman, the former New York Times food writer and cookbook author who now has a blog called Heated on a site called Medium (got that all straight?), has a good piece in which he addresses what he sees as the problematic state of the industrialized farming system that dominates American agriculture.

Writing about a recent trip to Iowa for a “Future of Food” series that he is shooting for PBS NewsHour Weekend, Bittman talks about how “logically (sort of), every farmer in Iowa behaves as an individual, believing that the way to beat low prices is to ‘compensate on volume.’ Farmers put their farms and their lives on the line by plunging deep into debt for a century - advised by the government to focus on commodities and squeezed by declining prices and ‘free trade’ in a global market, all while trying to maintain a family business that’s existed for generations. The more they produce, the more ‘inputs’ - chemicals, seeds, equipment - they must buy. The more they produce, the lower prices go, and everyone in the system benefits except the farmer, who goes along with it, believing there is no other choice.”

Bittman suggests that the broader agricultural system has to change - and he has some recommendations that combine elements of capitalism and public policy … though it would be inaccurate to suggest that he seems hopeful about things getting better.

You can read this provocative piece here.
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