Fracking Around with Our Food Supply

The controversial gas-drilling practice is tainting water. Your food might be next.

Photograph by Riverkeeper

Photograph by Riverkeeper

There’s a stunning moment in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland, where a man touches a match to his running faucet—to have it explode in a ball of fire. This is what hydraulic fracturing, a process of drilling for natural gas known as “fracking,” is doing to many drinking water supplies across the country. But the other side of fracking—what it might do to the food eaten by people living hundreds of miles from the nearest gas well—has received little attention.

many in agriculture, cattle farmer Ken Jaffe has had a good decade. But lately he’s been nervous, worried fracking will destroy his business. Jaffe’s been good to his soil, and the land has been good to him. By rotating his herd of cattle to different pastures on his Catskills farm every day, he has restored the once-eroded land and built a successful business with his grass-fed and -finished beef. His Slope Farms sells meat to food coops, specialty meat markets, and high-end restaurants in New York City, about 160 miles to the southeast. “If you feed your micro-herd—the bacteria and fungi in the soil—then your big herd will do well, too,” he said when I visited him recently on a cool, sunny afternoon.

But a seam of black rock lies nearly a mile beneath the topsoil he has so scrupulously nurtured, and the deposit contains enormous quantities of natural gas. Profit-hungry energy companies—and the politicians that their campaign donations support—are determined to exploit that resource, even though it could destroy the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers like Jaffe . . .


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1 comment

  1. soryaa andersen says:

    hi read you write up on organic ocean and prawning. First of all what does American fishing practices have to do with Canadian fishing practices ???? Did you know that that cod that was let out of the prawn trap most likely died from the bends. They can not adjust to being brought up from the bottom so fast. That is why divers come up from the bottom slowly. Second of all Canadian shrimpers have something call a grate one half of the way down their net. The grate has bars one and a half inches apart and when the fish go in the net it travels down and when it hits the grate is shoots out back into open water. The Americans may have poor fishing practices but leave us Canadians out of it. What you wrote is not the truth of all shrimping. Perhaps you need to do more research before you shoot you mouth off, That way at least in the future hopefully what you write will actually be true

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