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This is basically what Grapes of Wrath is about.



The crops were lost in the Grapes of Wrath due to the dustbowl, which was an ecological catastrophe that occurred in the 1930s due to bad land management.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl

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I don't have a copy with me so I can't give you page numbers but there is a scene after they have arrived in California where some food (I think potatoes) is being dumped into the river and there is a long (several pages) discussion at the end of the book where Steinbeck says something to the effect that our superior science allowed us to grow so much food but our economic system doesn't allow us to us it to feed the people.

It's a really good book you should check it out.

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