Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Why the Midwest's Food System Is Failing

The heavily agricultural states in the middle of the country aren't actually feeding their people. But the 2018 Farm Bill offers an opportunity to change that.

If you’ve perused the new 50-State Food System Scorecard from the Union of Concerned Scientists, you’ve probably noticed a seeming contradiction. As shown on the map below, the heavily agricultural states in the middle of the country aren’t exactly knocking it out of the park when it comes to the overall health and sustainability of their food and farming systems. On the contrary, most of the leading farm states of the Midwest reside in the basement of our overall ranking.

So what’s that about? A couple of reasons stand out to me.

First, much of what the Midwest grows today isn’t really food (much less healthy food).

It’s true. While we often hear that the region’s farmers are feeding America and the world, in fact much of the Midwest’s farm output today is comprised of just two crops: corn and soybeans.

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