In the latest Food & Environment Reporting Network report, in partnership with The American Prospect, reporter Paul Greenberg, author of the New York Times bestseller Four Fish, tells the story of how the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is the result of decades-long U.S. agricultural practices and investigates some of the promising solutions to fixing its future.
The story, “A River Runs Through It,” features a first look at some of the key players working to keep nutrients out of the Gulf, from a Minnesota conventional commodity farmer to a leading scientist who has studied the marsh ecosystem for 25 years, to a MacArthur genius grantee in Louisiana, who was one of the first to shed light on the dead zone phenomenon. Greenberg also talks with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who supports voluntary interventions. “Part travelogue down the Mississippi River, part intense conversation with those who want to fix the dead zone, part mourner’s prayer for a way of life that is under threat, ‘A River Runs Through It’ is a remarkable piece–and I’m delighted the Prospect is publishing it,” said Kit Rachlis, The American Prospect’s Editor-in-Chief. The story was photographed by Dennis Chamberlin, a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist and an associate professor of journalism at Iowa State University, while Switchyard Media of Seattle produced the infographic. “This story was kind of a ‘perfect storm,’ because Paul’s such an exceptional reporter and writer,” said FERN Editor-in-Chief Sam Fromartz. “But we also knew Dennis’s memorable photos and Switchyard’s strong visual storytelling would engage readers as well. The American Prospect worked hand-in-hand with us through the entire process.” You can read the full report on the dead zone at The American Prospect, or here on FERN’s Web site,