ABSTRACT

Intensive agriculture came to America in stages. It began with a mixture of brash and courageous persistence and ecological ignorance. As Wendell Berry put it, “When we came across the continent cutting the forests and plowing the prairies, we have never known what we were doing because we have never known what we were undoing.” With pride and without misgivings, vast and complex native ecosystems were converted to equally vast expanses of wheat and sorghum, corn and soybeans.