The Dry Harvest
This year’s major drought in the U.S. will change the way we eat for months—if not years—to come.
By the end of the summer of 2012, the United States was experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. Crops were drastically damaged and on government agriculture maps, a searing, disaster-level red burned through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and other states in the country’s corn belt and breadbasket—states that usually, if you fly over them on a clear day, bear the distinctive green patchwork of productive farming. But if you flew over or drove through the stricken regions this summer, what you likely saw instead was a landscape blighted by the browns, tans, and yellows of struggling crops. Many corn stalks in Tennessee grew only a fraction of their usual height; others in Illinois produced ears with sparse, shrunken kernels. Soy and wheat fields around the country struggled to last through the summer, whose unusually high temperatures added insult to agricultural injury.
photo: Scott Olson/Getty