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Posted on on October 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

MOTHER JONES – October 31, 2012


Can Farms Bounce Back From Superstorms Like Sandy?

Farmers have always lived with what the novelist Henry James called the “imagination of disaster”—the keen sense that there’s always something, anything, that can go wrong. In that long interval between sowing tiny seeds and reaping valuable crops, droughts, floods, plagues of pests, tumbling trees, ravaging beasts, mysterious molds—all threaten your livelihood and haunt your dreams. But the last seven years have been ridiculous.

In 2005, the sixth-most powerful hurricane ever recorded blitzed into the Mississippi River Delta region, flattening $900 million worth of crops. Less than two years after Katrina, a “500-year flood” visited the Midwestern corn belt—which, as the US Geological Survey pointed out at the time, marked the second “500-year flood” in 15 years. In 2011, Texas suffered the most severe 12-month drought in its recorded history, resulting in a stunning $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses, eclipsing the state’s previous record high in crop losses set just five years earlier. Then came last August’s Hurricane Irene, which deluged farmland and destroyed crops from Puerto Rico to Canada, taking a particular toll on farmers in Vermont and New York state. And now comes unprecedented “superstorm” Sandy.

Will our nation’s farms ever recover? And can they adapt to this stormy new reality?  [READ MORE]


Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies

This Halloween, we take you deep inside an industry’s campaign to frost its image, hold regulators at bay, and keep scientists from asking: Does sugar kill? [READ MORE]

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