As in the TV show, the horror goes on largely beneath the radar. There, it was dead bodies in the garage as neighbors jogged by. Here, it’s the calm way Iowa life seems to go on despite “pesticide drift from an aerial sprayer in your kitchen, a giant fish kill from a manure spill, respiratory illnesses among rural residents living near confinement hog operations, atrazine and nitrate in your rural well water, salmonella poisonings from factory chicken farms with proven records of evading public health laws, and flash floods downstream due to degraded soils and impaired watersheds upstream.”
But here’s what’s amazing: while the meth trade is illegal, commodity agriculture that has life breaking bad in Iowa, as mentioned above, is LEGAL. Not only legal, but subsidized by our federal government. In fact, the Farm Bill which was just signed did not really cut subsidies but instead raised the limits – and kept loopholes that allow large, wealthy farms to collect multiples of the current payment limit.
Breaking bad. Heart breaking, in fact. All the more reason to join the growing movement toward “local food” – farmers’ markets, our Farm Crawl, CSA’s (Community Support Agriculture) that deliver local food in a weekly basket, and leaders like Enshayen who have promoted local food. More reason to support those who give long-term, ecological care to the land like Practical Farmers of Iowa. More reason to be thankful that our Board of Supervisors – Agan, Kingery, and Raymie – just passed a measure called the Master Matrix (recommended by the DNR) to give us a wee bit more protection against the horror of confinement animal feeding in our backyards. Yes, we can create some good breaks, even here in the midst of all this “breaking bad.”