A century of industrialization has left our food system riddled with problems, yet for solutions we look to nutritionists and government agencies, scientists and chefs. Lisa M. Hamilton asks: why not look to the people who grow our food?
In this narrative nonfiction book she tells three stories, of an African-American dairyman in Texas who plays David to the Goliath of agribusiness corporations; a tenth-generation rancher in New Mexico struggling to restore agriculture as a pillar of his community; and a modern pioneer family in North Dakota breeding new varieties of plants to face the future’s double threat: climate change and the patenting of life forms.
In unique ways, these “unconventional farmers” reject the passive role that modern agriculture has insisted they accept and instead reclaim their place as stewards of the land and leaders within society.
Threads of history and discussion weave through the tales, exploring how farmers have been pushed to the margins of agriculture and how that has led to the broken food system we grapple with today. These unusual characters and their extraordinary stories make the case that in order to repair the damage, we must bring farmers back to the table.
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