Miriam Horn is the author of Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Your new book focuses on five different people. How did you pick them, and what do they have in common?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I had an idea for a book that would look at unsung heroes who are producing food at industrial scale, living in conservative regions of the country. I threw out a wide net, and got to know the candidates.
I spent time as a kid on a farm in California. In my 20s I worked for the Forest Service, and met people in logging and ranching. I work at the Environmental Defense Fund and have for 12 years. It’s unusual in seeking out partners in worlds a lot of environmentalists don’t see potential partners in.
My most important search engine was my colleagues at EDF. I ended up with dozens of possible stories. I was thinking about a coherent [story].
Many of them lived in the middle of the country, and it could be a journey of sorts, an opportunity to look at different ecosystems, the challenges the mountain ecosystems and high plains were facing, large-scale crop producers.
Then there was the storyteller’s instinct—who had the richest story, voice, and face—it’s also being made into a movie. They are people who bring different dimensions to it.
Once I settled on a journey down the Mississippi, then it pretty much zoomed me in on who the five should be.
What they have in common—they are all quite traditional in their values. They’re...[read on]