Des Moines, Iowa, in the heart of the grain belt, gets about three feet of precipitation every year. But the real heart of American agriculture is California's Central Valley, where about a third that much water falls in a year.
From the earliest days of white settlement, California's booming economy--whether based on mining or agriculture--has required amounts of water nature did not provide. Mark Arax, son of a farm family in the valley, tells the story anew in The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California.
He tells of practices past and present that provide prosperity while depleting the land.
We visit with the author about what he found.