Regenerative Holiday Reading List

Here at Land to Market and the Savory Institute, we are continually learning, reading, reflecting, and thinking critically about the power and urgency of ecosystem health. And more importantly, how we can best foster regeneration.

Here at Land to Market and the Savory Institute, we are continually learning, reading, reflecting, and thinking critically about the power and urgency of ecosystem health. And more importantly, how we can best foster regeneration. We put together a list of books that have informed us and gotten us to think hard about the issues that drive the work we do: animal agriculture, grassland conservation, perennial ecosystems, and the animal-land-community dynamic. As you settle in for the holidays, we hope you explore some of these titles for your own reading and for sharing with others.

Defending Beef 

Nicolette Niman

Vegetarian Nicolette Niman shares her journey into learning how livestock production gets a bad rap when it comes to environmental impact. As an environmental lawyer she outlines a case that cattle are not inherently bad for the planet or for human health. She points out evidence that properly managed livestock are in fact essential to maintaining grassland environments, acting as proxies for the roaming ruminants that used to navigate these ecosystems. 

~Chris Kerston

Meat Paradox

Rob Perceval

In his quest to find the answer to the question of whether or not humans should eat meat, Rob Perceval, sets out on a journey to discover how we can both eat animals and love them, and most importantly how animal agriculture is vital to ecosystem health. Perceval explores the consequences of separating animals from their natural environment in confinement feeding operations, which he believes will bring humanity to a post-agriculture world that will no longer support any kind of production. This is a beautiful, witty, well-researched investigation into our past, present, and future of eating meat.

~Jonnah Perkins

Beyond the Rangeland Conflict

Dan Dagget

This book dives straight into the tension between conservationists and ranchers. Author Dan Dagget shares his personal journey as an environmentalist who was fighting ranchers and then learning that they cared about the same values he did and were doing more on a day to day basis to accomplish them. They formed an early group called boots and birkenstocks to explore these shared values. This book and its beautiful photography showcases ranches around the American West that are stewarding their land to heal it and using livestock as a tool, managed in nature’s image, to regenerate the land. 

~Chris Kerston

Call of the Reed Warbler

Charles Massy

Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massy is a beautifully poignant book about the transformative potential of  regenerative agriculture and its connection to soil and human health. Through personal experience and evocative storytelling, Massy shows how industrial agriculture and profit-obsessed corporations are damaging the planet and how regenerative agriculture can restore natural health to the land. The book is based on Massy's own journey from a chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer regenerating a 2000-hectare property.

~Bobby Gill

Green Grass in the Spring: A Cowboy’s Guide to Saving the World

Tony Malmberg

Tony Malmberg's memoir of life as a cowboy and his journey to adopting Holistic Management is told through the stories and metaphors to illustrate the principles of Holistic Management and its ability to regenerate land and soul. Malmberg was a lifelong cowboy, starting at age four in the Nebraska Sandhills. As he ranched in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Oregon, he became a student of Holistic Management in order to create healthy soils on the landscape he tended near Lander, Wyoming. He soon realized the power of Holistic Management to nurture healthy souls and came to understand its potential to heal a fractured world. Today, Malmberg continues to ranch in eastern Oregon with his wife, Andrea, and shares his lifetime of knowledge with other land stewards as a Master Field Professional with the Savory Institute. Through his story, "Green Grass in the Spring" shows the potential of Holistic Management to create a better world.

~Bobby Gill

The Reindeer Chronicles

Judith D. Schwartz

The latest from award-winning science journalist Judith D. Schwartz, The Reindeer Chronicles takes us first to China’s Loess Plateau, where a landmark project has successfully restored a blighted region the size of Belgium, lifting millions of people out of poverty. She journeys on to Norway, where a young indigenous reindeer herder challenges the most powerful orthodoxies of conservation—and his own government. And in the Middle East, she follows the visionary work of an ambitious young American as he attempts to re-engineer the desert ecosystem, using plants as his most sophisticated technology. Schwartz explores regenerative solutions across a range of landscapes: deserts, grasslands, tropics, tundra, Mediterranean. She also highlights various human landscapes, the legacy of colonialism and industrial agriculture, and the endurance of indigenous knowledge. The Reindeer Chronicles demonstrates how solutions to seemingly intractable problems can come from the unlikeliest of places, and how the restoration of local water, carbon, nutrient, and energy cycles can play a dramatic role in stabilizing the global climate. Ultimately, it reveals how much is in our hands if we can find a way to work together and follow nature’s lead.

~Bobby GIll

Nourishing Traditions Cookbook

Sally Fallon

There are few resources that are as comprehensive when it comes to teaching people how to cook and eat traditional foods. This cookbook focuses not only on old-world cooking styles but also nutrient density. The recipes are very approachable and utilize ingredients readily available. If you're interested in new ways to prepare grassfed meats, utilize organ meats, and explore all sorts of different dairy ferments, then this book is for you. 

~Chris Kerston

For the Love of Land 

Jim Howell

Author Jim Howell has been an active part of the Holistic Management movement for decades. An early student of Allan Savory’s, he has managed land holistically all over the globe. This book, compiled as a series of essays, shares incredible stories and outlines practical and proven management strategies for regenerating degraded grasslands, rangelands, savannas, and ranches. If you want to learn about how livestock can be part of the solution, read this book!

~Chris Kerston

The Last Ranch: A Colorado Community and the Coming Desert

Sam Bingham

Written by Sam Bingham, co-author of the Holistic Management Handbook, "The Last Ranch: A Colorado Community and the Coming Desert" explores the history and future of the San Luis Valley—a high-altitude desert located in south-central Colorado—and the challenges facing the community there. The book follows the Whitten family and their neighbors as they struggle to find a way to sustain their way of life in once prime cattle country in the face of slow desertification, and the moves they make towards adopting Holistic Management as a way forward. Through these stories, "The Last Ranch" paints a poignant portrait of a community facing an uncertain future, and the challenges that come with trying to live in harmony with the land.

~Bobby Gill

Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising 

Tom Lasater

This book is a phenomenal resource for anyone raising livestock that wants to maximize the genetic potential in their herd. All breeding operations have the potential to optimize the genetics of their herd to fit their landscape, climate, and management. Author Tom Lasater developed the Beefmaster breed, a composite of shorthorn, herefords, and brahmas. In the process of creating that breed he developed a framework of 6 essential traits that maximize production and utility. Many in the Holistic Management movement utilize this framework as a selection tool to get their genetics to thrive for their specific operation. This short book can forever change the way you look at breeding and genetics. 

~Chris Kerston