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Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Agriculture
Synopses & Reviews
In Raising Less Corn, More Hell George B. Pyle shows us how the famous breadbasket of America is being bought up by large corporations, who produce less food per acre than the small farmer, push those farmers further into debt, pollute the earth and wear out the soil, and even license the very stuff of life: grain and seed. Meanwhile those farmers are promised a better future if they play ball with the corporations, but caught between the brutal new market and antiquated government support systems, they are forced to grow too much of the wrong crops — crops that will be fed to animals who cannot tolerate them, shipped as dubious "aid" to struggling countries, drive the farmer's take-home pay ever downward, and make us all fatter.
Pyle, native Kansan and editorialist for theSalt Lake Tribune, delivers a powerful, learned and lively attack on the status quo and shows us how unless we take a close look at our larder — right now — we risk turning much of rural America into a permanent environmental and economic wasteland. We are feeding ourselves and the rest of the world too much trash, he says, at environmental, ecological, and even security costs that are too high to pay.
"Can American farmers feed more of the world's hungry by growing fewer crops? Veteran journalist Pyle argues that they can — and they must, if the planet's food supply is to remain ample and safe. Growing too much food, Pyle says, actually exacerbates world hunger. Grain gluts, for example, result in dumping of crops in developing countries. Local farmers can't compete against the cheap American imports and go out of business. Large-scale industrialized agriculture threatens food safety, impoverishes American farmers and contributes to obesity and other health problems. Contrary to agribusiness's insistence that we need bigger factory farms and more genetically modified crops, Pyle claims that we can better feed the world by decreasing production (and thus heavy reliance on polluting fertilizers and pesticides), diversifying crop species, honoring local production methods and supporting small-scale independent farms. 'The problems of food will not be solved with industrial solutions,' he writes, 'because food, no matter how hard we try to rationalize otherwise, is not an industry.' His well-researched, lucid and passionate argument explains not only what is wrong with U.S. agricultural policy but why it matters. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
The industrialization of agriculture, with its concomitant economic, geographic, and genetic concentration of plants and animals, not only doesn't serve the interests of small, independent farmers or consumers, it threatens significant national security and environmental dangers, argues Pyle (an editorial writer for The Salt Lake Tribune). Primarily looking at the American experience, he provides a brief historical overview of the concentration of agriculture, caused by government policy and corporate profiteering, and details its dangers, whether from terrorist attack or the "axis of weevil."
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A revelatory, alarming, urgent and fiercely witty essay on the many wrong ways in which our food is produced — what it all means and what can be done about it.
A revelatory, alarming, wide-ranging and readable cri de coeur on the state of agriculture in America.
About the Author
George B. Pyle was born in Kansas City, Mo. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, radio talk show host and television commentator in Kansas. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1998. Now an editorial writer forThe Salt Lake Tribune, he lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two sons.
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