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Shrinking Agriculture's Footprint

Season 2, Episode 7

For optimal sustainability, which farming practice is best? Miriam Horn, who worked for the Environmental Defense Fund for over ten years, says: well, it depends. Don’t choose a sweeping solution; farming smart is place-dependent: where can we sacrifice the least biodiversity, the least sequestered carbon? Agriculture’s footprint is already vast – half of the ice-free planet – so the stakes are high. But taking Miriam’s practical stance toward conservation moves us past political divisions. Her book (now also a film), Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, pushes against both the myth that conservation is a liberal coastal value and that you must be small and local to contribute to the solution.

In this interview, Miriam walks us through the many waves of environmentalism: from the bedrock laws of the 60s to the combative postures of the 80s, from bridge-building partnerships and market leveraging to information technology integration. Tune in for Miriam’s lessons on balancing land sparing with land sharing, how EDF taught Walmart to prioritize better farming, and why we must move past agrarian romanticism.

Here's a full transcript of the interview.

Image: from the film Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman


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