Leaving the relative prosperity of Phillipsburg, KS, we headed down the highway wrapped in the ribbon of green and blue surrounding us. The expectation that the breadbasket of America would be rolling green pastures dotted with well-maintained farmhouses soon dissipated into alarm at the poverty we saw. While the farms seemed to be productive for the most part, the astounding number of dilapidated homes, falling down barns and silos, and other signs of abandonment, were only pointers to the towns we went through: closed and boarded shops, gas stations long ago deserted, empty streets. At times, driving through Nebraska, we wondered if we were truly in America. This was not the United States I was led to believe I live in.
Further despair was triggered when we passed a feed lot. Due to my love of anything western, and the cowboy way of life, if I eat beef it has to be grass fed. Having seen and smelled the feed lots, there is now no way I’d eat beef without the label of ‘grass-fed.’ The Yuma feed lot, in particular, which lasts for about two and a half miles, had us gasping for air and on the point of regurgitation. I cannot get across how thoroughly disgusted we felt.