When perusing the endless variety of foods lining the shelves of grocery stores, it’s easy to forget where it all comes from. This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm by Ted Genoways offers insight into the farming process, which has experienced significant changes over the years.
Genoways follows Nebraska farmer Rick Hammond and his family over the course of a year, providing an in-depth look at the obstacles farmers face today, including climate change, dwindling underground water supplies, oil and gas pipeline encroachment, market price fluctuations and the always unpredictable weather. There are also successes, such as President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015—but the challenges seem to outweigh the triumphs.
A Nebraska native, Genoways tells the story with genuine honesty and historical awareness, explaining how the “American farm underwent a period of unmatched innovation in the early twentieth century” with the introduction of gas-powered tractors and harvesting combines. But big corporations have now taken over, forcing cross-pollination “to produce robust seed corn” and promoting pesticide-heavy crops, which are more resistant and have higher yields.
Genoways delivers a close-up look at what farmers face today and their efforts to accomplish their goals.