During my trip to the Midwest this summer, I saw many unsettling sights: vast monocropped landscapes lashed regularly with chemicals, insidious low-slung buildings that imprison thousands of animals and concentrate their waste. Yet I returned oddly invigorated, buzzing about Iowa's promise as a sustainable-ag mecca. Amid the cornfields and the CAFOs, I saw thriving homestead farms where people are raising organic vegetables alongside pastured, happy hogs. I saw bustling farmers' markets and met chefs whose buy-local fixations might make them the toast of Berkeley or Santa Cruz. I came back with a mantra: Iowa today is California circa 1972. One …
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