The Mississippi river flows through the heart of America. A place of rich tradition and stunning landscapes. It is also home to some of the most productive farmland in the world but this success comes with a price. The very fertilizers that helped farmers produce record yields are greening America’s waters. Creating dead zones upriver and downriver. We are wasting a lot of fertilizer, a lot of energy, a lot of money, at the same time that we’re having very serious impacts on aquatic ecosystems. It’s not natural to be swimming in the water and not see living organisms. Unswimmable, undrinkable water that is inhospitable to life. We’ve painted the world, all of the agricultural lands of the world, in phosphorus and nitrogen. Why is it becoming unsafe? Why are the nitrates going up? Meanwhile on the land, valuable soil is washing away. Farming practices have created a series of unintended consequences. The lake will be filled with sediment 300 years and it will be gone in a little more than a few generations. Farmers, scientists, and citizens are working together toward a more sustainable future. New ideas are being tested, policies are being challenged. It’s change, it’s hard to break old habits and all traditions. I’m very optimistic. We’ve gone from axe and ox, to tractors to gps’s, to precision agriculture. We’ve come a long long way in a world where the demand for food is expected to double by mid-century. The future health of America’s agricultural lands and waters is at stake. Our food supply is on the line and is headed toward a watery grave in the Gulf of Mexico.