I was recently reflecting on how people come to prioritize good food. And, how a curiosity, interest or passion for sourcing good food can spread to almost every other area of one's life.
Often, it starts by way of a good book. And, there are so many out there from which to choose.
But, in case you're curious what's all this buzz surrounding "regenerative agriculture" about, you're a fan of healthy ecosystems and want to learn more about them or are just looking for a good book to read next...
here are my top 10 books for taking the plunge into regenerative ag.
#1 Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown
"Our lives depend on soil. This knowledge is so ingrained in me now that it’s hard for me to believe how many soil-destroying practices I followed when I first started farming. I didn’t know any better. In college I was taught all about the current industrial production model, which is a model based on reductionist science, not on how natural ecosystems function. The story of my farm is how I took a severely degraded, low profit operation that had been managed using the industrial production model and regenerated it into a healthy, profitable one. The journey included many trials and constant experimentation, along with many failures and some successes. I’ve had many teachers, including other farmers and ranchers, researchers, ecologists, and my family. But the best teacher of all is nature herself."
I felt that if every neighbor rancher or farmer could just read or listen to this book, that maybe they'd be more open to trying some new practices or finding new ways to make soil health a focus on their operations. Maybe that's overly optimistic, but it's definitely a book worth sharing.
#2 For the Love of Soil by Nicole Masters
For the Love of Soil' is a land manager’s roadmap to healthy soil, revitalized food systems in challenging times. This book equips producers with knowledge, skills and insights to regenerate
ecosystem health and grow farm profits. Globally-recognized soil advocate and agroecologist Nicole Masters delivers the solution to rewind the clock on this increasingly critical soil crisis in her first book, For the Love of Soil.
I'm fortunate enough to have been able to meet and visit with Nicole Masters on several occasions. Her book is well written and while the stories she tells will stick with you, I do have to go back a second or third time to try and soak up all the very interesting and detailed science included within the pages.
#3 The Reindeer Chronicles by Judith Schwartz
Schwartz explores regenerative solutions across a range
also highlights various human landscapes, the legacy of colonialism and industrial agriculture, and the endurance of indigenous knowledge. The Reindeer Chronicles demonstrates how solutions to seemingly intractable problems can come from the unlikeliest of places, and how the restoration of local water, carbon, nutrient, and energy cycles can play a dramatic role in stabilizing the global climate.
Ultimately, it reveals how much is in our hands if we can find a way to work together and follow nature’s lead.
#4 Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century.
We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"
This book blew my mind when I first read it. I was like, how is it that everyone isn't educated about our food supply like this. This feels so important everyone should hear about it. It also introduced me to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, someone definitely worth knowing about.
#5 Growing a Revolution by David Montgomery
Growing a Revolution draws on visits to farms in the industrialized world and developing world to show that a new combination of farming practices can deliver innovative, cost-effective solutions to problems farmers face today. Montgomery explores why practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture help restore soil health and fertility. In addition, he discusses how these practices translate into farms that use less water, generate less pollution, and lower carbon emissions. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Growing a Revolution lays out a solid case for an inspiring vision where agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems.
David Montgomery has written numerous books on this topic. I also would recommend Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization. I think if everyone in a drought region in America would read that book, then we'd look at the desertification around us differently.
#6 Defending Beef (Revised and Expanded Edition) by Nicolette Hahn Niman
In Defending Beef, Second Edition, environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for the earth. The impact of grazing can be either negative or positive, depending on how livestock are managed. In fact, with proper oversight, livestock can play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by performing the same functions as the natural herbivores that once roamed and grazed there.
Defending Beef is simultaneously a book about big issues and the personal journey of the author, who continues to fight for animal welfare and good science. Hahn Niman shows how dispersed, grass-based, smaller-scale farms can and should become the basis of American food production.
#7 The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices—and, especially, modern industrial agriculture—have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world’s soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for "our great green hope"—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming.
#8 What's Making Our Children Sick by Michelle Perro MD & Vincanne Adams PhD.
What's Making Our Children Sick? convincingly explains how agrochemical industrial production and genetic modification of foods is a culprit in this epidemic. Is it the only culprit? No. Most chronic health disorders have multiple causes and require careful disentanglement and complex treatments. But what if toxicants in our foods are a major culprit, one that, if corrected, could lead to tangible results and increased health?
This book helped point us in the right direction to get a functional/integrative physician for our son, and finally get to the root of his health issues. Highly recommend it to anyone that has a little person in their life they care about or who might someday!
#9 The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, & Love by Kristin Kimball
When Kristin Kimball left New York City to interview a dynamic young farmer named Mark, her world changed. On an impulse, she shed her city self and started a new farm with him on 500 acres near Lake Champlain. The Dirty Life is the captivating chronicle of the couple’s first year on Essex Farm, from the cold North Country winter through their harvest-season wedding in the loft of the barn.
This book was recommended to me by of our customers. He shared that "it reminds me of your story a bit. It's partly responsible for why I started to fall in love with understanding my food supply chain." Definitely a good read.
In Sacred Cow, registered dietitian Diana Rodgers and former research biochemist and New York Times bestselling author Robb Wolf explore the quandaries we face in raising and eating animals
—focusing on the largest (and most maligned) of farmed animals, the cow.
You’ll also find practical guidance on how to support sustainable farms and a 30-day challenge to help you transition to a healthful and conscientious diet. With scientific rigor, deep compassion,
and wit, Rodgers and Wolf argue unequivocally that meat (done right) should have a place on the table.
These two are great. Robb Wolf might be best known for his book the Paleo Solution. Our family strives to practice this diet in our home. And, I know one of our customers was turned onto a more whole foods lifestyle after reading his book. And Diana Rogers is very active on Instagram and I recommend following her at @sustainabledish, if you're already on IG.
*There are affiliate links to the books in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.