Journalist, activist, and filmmaker Tickell supplements his 2017 short documentary of the same name with this book that extols the theory that replenishing the planet's soil is the key to overcoming climate change and strengthening the world's food supply. The author travels across the United States and to France to interview scientists, farmers, politicians, and chefs to discuss how degenerative farming techniques have deplinished the soil, and how the world's foods and diets have negatively changed. According to Tickell, the answer to turning this agricultural crisis around is to adopt new regenerative standards, such as replenishing soil with compost and manure along with using crop rotation and no-tilling methods. Tickell explains technical jargon in an engaging and fluid style but often fails to describe the scientific reasoning behind his suggested methods. Generous charts and graphs are provided throughout the book, which concludes with tips on how consumers can practice regenerative methods at home. VERDICT This well-written and engaging book will appeal to devotees of the cause, but critics might be unconvinced.—Phillip Oliver, formerly with Univ. of North Alabama, Florence
The soil in which food is grown will fix everything, including desertification and climate change, according to this overwrought manifesto. Tickell, an activist and film director (Fuel, The Big Fix), fleshes out his documentary (also titled Kiss the Ground) on “regenerative agriculture,” a suite of farming reforms that aim to restore soil health through no-till agriculture, crop rotation, fertilization with compost and manure, and free-range livestock grazing. In his messianic telling, this program will halt erosion, feed a swelling population, save farmers from bankruptcy, summon rain, and sequester enough carbon underground to reverse global warming. Tickell entwines his explanation of the new agriculture in vivid reportage, featuring much dirt porn as farmers, ranchers, and agronomists savor rich, dark soil full of earthworms and fungi. It also feels like a one-sided treatment, drawn from the most optimistic reaches of scientific literature and paired with a biased attack on conventional farming, aka “the Nazi chemical experiment that has become our modern industrial agriculture.” (His condemnation of genetically modified crops repeats long-debunked claims that they helped cause a wave of farmer suicides in India.) Tickell’s vision is captivating, but these complex agricultural innovations deserve a more balanced, clear-eyed investigation. Photos. (Nov.)
“Kiss the Ground re-imagines conventional wisdom and adds to our armory in our existential duty to slow and reverse climate change. We know that we must aggressively reduce our carbon footprint. But as we learn in this profound, timely, and important book, we can also pursue traditional solutions to harness the carbon already in our atmosphere—and replant it here on earth. A simple composting program and healthy soils can be a key weapon in saving our planet (from ourselves).
Kiss the Ground gives us the most practical solution to reversing climate change. The soil is a vital and untapped resource. A must read for anyone committed to healing our bodies and our Earth.
Kiss the Ground shines a beacon of light on the growing global 'regenerative agriculture’ movement, illuminating a new path toward carbon sequestration and hopefully, a path toward a balanced climate. With clear, accessible language, wit and humor, this book gives readers powerful tools to overcome humanity’s greatest challenge."
Kiss the Ground is a powerful, provocative new look at how we can all participate in honoring Mother Earth. Our food is the source of our life and the soil is the source of our food. This book shows the simple steps each one of us can take to restore the health of our bodies and our planet.
Food, soil, even eating itself…all are fundamental issues in the effort to live a more enlightened life.
Kiss the Ground both informs and inspires, as it connects biology and geography and species diversity to the yearnings of the human heart.
Through my life as a chef, one of the most important lessons I have learned is that we have to take care of our Earth, or it won’t be able to go on taking care of us. Every one of us—farmers and chefs, parents and children, business people and world leaders—must play a part in keeping our planet healthy so that it can go on keeping us healthy. That’s why I’m so happy to discover
Kiss the Ground, which offers a fascinating, easy-to-follow blueprint for how eating in ways that nourish and regenerate the soil can not only help reverse global warming but also bring greater vitality to our lives. “
Our food choices not only impact our personal health, but the health of the world we all live in.
Kiss the Ground is the first book to connect our health to what is going on in the atmosphere. If you care about your kids, about the food you’re feeding them and about the future of the planet, you need to read this book.
Kiss the Ground paints a hopeful yet achievable picture of a way of growing food that makes our soil healthier, makes us healthier, and ultimately could make our climate healthier too. As somebody who’s thrown his hat into the new ‘regenerative movement’ I recommend this book to anyone wanting to heal themselves and our planet.
Kiss the Ground takes the reader on an adventure… with an empowering section on concrete steps everyone can take to be a part of the solution."
Permaculture Magazine North America
A journalist, activist, and filmmaker examines how soil-conscious farming practices may affect climate change and aims to move consumer sentiment to support them.Tickell (Biodiesel America: How to Achieve Energy Security, Free America from Middle-East Oil Dependence, and Make Money Growing Fuel, 2006, etc.), whose films include Fuel and The Big Fix, is a vocal disciple of value-based consumerism. Unfortunately, in seeking to convert the uninitiated, the author too often preaches to the choir. The book will appeal the most to readers who are already pro-organic foodies and/or anti-GMO crusaders. Refreshingly, the narrative is richly visual, likely due to the author's primary vocation as a respected documentary filmmaker; his description of the arrival of the French Minister of Agriculture reads like a scene from a James Bond film. However, the science at the center of this thesis is lacking. Tickell argues that the reason these farming techniques will transform agriculture is because they foster the health of the billions of microbes and fungi that live in the soil, but he only rarely mentions the name of a single species (there are thousands). Furthermore, it takes more than two-thirds of the text for the author to note that soil microorganisms thrive when suspended in water and go dormant without it, a premise central to his thesis. Similarly, Tickell discusses soil microbes that break down methane, a greenhouse gas found in cow excrement, but he fails to adequately explain the scientific research focused on it. In addition, the entirety of the book takes place in France or the United States, where food is plentiful. What happens when you take Tickell's ideas to nations that struggle to feed their people?Fellow members of the author's choir will find some useful nuggets, but readers seeking to learn more about microbial soil health and its implications for farm practices and climate change should look elsewhere. Regarding microbes and our bodies, a good start is Alanna Collen's 10% Human (2015).