Praise for this blessed earth

• ONE BOOK ONE nebraska selection

• All Iowa Reads selection

• winner of the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Award

• Smithsonian: ten Best History Books of 2017

• Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Compelling nonfiction Books of 2017

• Civil Eats:
Favorite Food & Farming Books of 2017

“A clear eyed and unsentimental look at how farming has become relentlessly optimized by automation, markets and politics; factors that don’t always take into account the guy who’s actually driving the tractor . . . Genoways comes from a long line of Nebraskans himself, and . . . he writes with authority. [This Blessed Earth] is a reminder that the family farm will inevitably pass . . . But it’s also an affirmation that those farms existed for a purpose: to feed us all.”

—Arlo Crawford, New York Times Book Review


This Blessed Earth is a sort of universal story of family farmers and all they’re up against in their efforts to take care of the land and make a living from it. It’s also a crash course in the history that brought us to this place of corporate power, shrinking resources, and a changing climate. But it plants seeds of hope as the next generation prepares to inherit the family land and all the joys and challenges that come with it. This book is an invitation to all who care about family farmers―which after all is all of us, since we all eat!”
—Willie Nelson, founder and president of Farm Aid
 

“The farmscape Genoways portrays is the land of the unfree trying desperately to retain the illusion of their freedom, an illusion made all the more illusory in the era of Trump, whose proposed tariffs will surely hurt farmers. Industrial agriculture—shaped by the USDA, by chemical and seed companies, by the vagaries of domestic and export markets—relies on a picture of the family farmer to soften its image. It wants it both ways. It wants to celebrate its technical innovations, like genetically modified crops, computer-driven tractors, and satellite-monitored fields. And yet it also wants to foster our national nostalgia for farming and the men and women who do it. The contradiction is intolerable, especially to farmers. Genoways tries to make the reader feel the contradiction too, and he gets it right.”

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Review of Books

 

“Situated somewhere between James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and any Bruce Springsteen song about people just trying to get by . . . [This Blessed Earth] tells the story of the people that put food on our country’s table.”

—Jason Diamond, MEN's Journal

“One thing that urban and suburban Americans don’t understand about farmers is: they have to make more decisions and judgment calls, with more riding on the outcomes, than almost any other professionals I know of. Ted Genoways captures the tensions, and the glories, of modern farming in this book, offering a rare glimpse into the workers the rest of us depend on the most. This book is a delight.”

—Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont

“An affecting book . . . In his compelling narrative, journalist Genoways gives the reader a kitchen-table view of the vagaries, complexities and frustrations of modern farming . . . Insightful and empathetic.”

—Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“Engaging. . . Genoways joins a distinguished list of writers—Verlyn Klinkenborg, Wendell Berry, and Barbara Kingsolver, to mention a few—who depict the life agricultural as a ceaseless cycle of work, worry, and uncertainty . . . We ride with [the Hammonds] as they plant, cultivate, and harvest. We share the labor of keeping balky equipment up and running against deadlines set by weather and market forces. We worry whether enough rain will come, or, at other times, too much . . . What comes through most strongly is a deep love of the land and respect for hard work . . . Ultimately, we come to understand that, for all its down sides, this ‘non-idyllic’ American farm is a highly rewarding place to be.”

—Natural History

“Genoways lucked into finding subjects who are extraordinarily frank, who let him into their personal lives with a clear trust, but . . . this book is bigger than the Hammonds. They are a thread through which Genoways recounts generations of agricultural history. Earl Butz, the Russian grain deal, Cargill, Monsanto, the Homestead Act, the Keystone pipeline, climate change — they all are put in context with their impact on farming . . . This Blessed Earth is a history book, an economics text, even a soap opera of sorts. If we eat, we should know.”

—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Everyone who eats in America should read this lyrical and often heartbreaking book about life on a modern American farm. It will change the way you look at what is on
your plate.”

—Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year

 

“Farming, family, and food all come together in this beautifully written story of what it takes to work this blessed earth.”

—Tom Colicchio, chef and co-founder of Food Policy Action


“It’s not fair to claim that you are concerned about the country’s food system unless you truly understand the millions of unsung conventional family farmers who produce our corn, soybeans, and beef. Genoways portrays just such a family in a book that is factual, rich in history, and filled with characters you will come to know as friends. He writes with an investigative journalist’s mind and a poet’s soul.”
—Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland

“Ted Genoways brings a lifetime of knowledge to the complex story of modern agriculture. His depth of understanding is evident on every page as he follows the Hammonds through a year on their Nebraska farm, examining the way they are not only at the behest of traditional challenges such as weather and time but also subject to international trade agreements, worldwide competition, and the challenges of scale. In This Blessed Earth, Genoways masterfully illustrates the costs and demands of such a life, and beautifully renders the endurance and dignity of those who have chosen it.”
—Jane Brox, author of Clearing Land

“In an impressive and compelling work of literary journalism, Ted Genoways dives deep into the heart of an American farm family, illuminating critical issues troubling our complex food production system. But he also describes in intimate detail the very human struggles of the work―between husband and wife, parent and child, father-in-law and son-in-law―in one family committed to growing our food and passing the work on to the next generation.”
—Michael Ruhlman, author of Grocery