Review by Drake Swezey
During my summer as a Regenerative Ranching Intern at TomKat Ranch, I’ve been exposed to a wide range of ideas through staff, visitors, articles, and books. Recently, I had the chance to read the book Kiss the Ground and I found it to be a remarkably insightful and approachable conversation about the future of our food system.
According to the book, the quality of America’s farmland is deteriorating and most row-crop farmers would lose money each year if not for government subsidies propping them up. Simultaneously, mainstream consumers have lost touch with the origins of the food that sustains them. These subjects are critically important to me, yet I rarely know where my food comes from and only a handful of times have met the farmer who put the work into growing it. While connecting farmers with consumers directly is nice in theory, it is one currently out of reach for the millions of urbanites in our country.
On the production end of the equation, I’d like my food to be nutritious and free of toxins, have a positive impact on the land, and be healthy for the farmer’s bottom line and community as well. Knowing that these are not the present realities of our food system, how can the majority of consumers find a connection with their food and farmers, and how can we encourage a majority of farmers to produce food both ecologically and economically? Is it possible? The book presents readers with a potential solution: Regenerative Agriculture.
The beauty of this book is that Tickell writes through the eyes of a layperson. Many books pertaining to regenerative agriculture have required some prior—and in some cases, profound—understanding of agriculture or biology or economics. That is not the case here. While complex and highly nuanced subjects abound in Kiss the Ground, Tickell does a fantastic job of breaking them down and explaining the essentials. In this way, it is possible for someone without prior experience in agriculture to gain the necessary understanding to encourage and support regenerative agriculture.
All told, a copy of Kiss the Ground should be in every home in America. No matter your beliefs or where you come from, just about all of us can agree that the American food system has plenty of room for improvement. And whether you set your sights on ecological, economic, or even personal health, this book has the potential to be a true catalyst for change.