cover image What Your Food Ate: How to Heal Our Land and Reclaim Our Health

What Your Food Ate: How to Heal Our Land and Reclaim Our Health

David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé. Norton, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-324-00453-0

Geologist Montgomery and biologist Biklé (Hidden Half of Nature) bemoan the loss of soil nutrients in this insightful look at regenerative farming. Produce is significantly less nutrient-dense than in the past, and while consumers believe that organic farming yields more nutritious results than conventional agriculture, “what’s typically missing from the framing of dietary choices,” the authors write, “is how we grow what we eat.” As they show, while modern agriculture produces “cheap, abundant” food thanks to “mechanized plowing, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides,” it has wrecked soil and degraded the nutrients within it to the point where, “globally, micronutrient malnutrition is now more common than inadequate calories.” Meat eaters aren’t off the hook, either, as “what cows eat ripples through to the nutritional quality of the meat, milk, and cheese we consume.” The authors offer a bevy of ideas for reviving soil, namely no-till planting, the usage of cover crops, and crop rotation. Trips to farms in Connecticut and California show regenerative farming in action (at one farm, it took just one year of not plowing for the soil to begin improving), and the authors make a case for subsidizing farms that use such practices. The result is a deep dive that’s convincing and well reported. (June)