Welcome to another episode of the Willoughby Hills podcast!
My guest today is author, journalist, and farmer Beth Hoffman. She grew up in suburban New Jersey and spent much of her adult life in the San Francisco area. There, she was a journalist focused on writing about food and agriculture. She was also a professor at the University of San Francisco, teaching a course about how the media discusses food.
In her late 40s, Beth and her husband John decided to return to his family farm in Iowa to work as full time farmers. From that experience was born Beth’s book Bet the Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America.
The book is part memoir, looking at her and John’s struggles to convert a conventional Iowa farm raising commodity crops like corn and soy beans into Whippoorwill Creek Farm, a grass finished cattle operation that also uses organic practices for raising vegetables. But the book is also a look at the economic challenges that face farmers in this country today.
Beth and I discuss not only the difficult physical tasks that come with growing food and raising meat, but also the larger systemic issues in farming including racial discrimination, influence from large agribusiness companies, and the threats posed by climate change.
It’s a far reaching and in depth conversation with somebody who has seen the agriculture and food businesses from nearly every angle in her lifetime and has a lot of knowledge to share.
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