"If I could have one wish it is that every eater in America would read this book." —Ruth Reichl
From a pioneer of the regenerative agriculture movement, a memoir-meets-manifesto on betting the farm on a better future for our food, animals, land, local communities, and our climate
Raised as a fourth-generation farmer, when Will Harris inherited White Oak Pastures he was a full-time commodity cowboy who played hard and fast with every tool the system offered – chemicals, antibiotics, steroids, and more. His ancestors had built a highly profitable, conventionally-run machine, but over time he found himself disgusted with the excess, cruelty, and smalltown devastation this system entailed. So he bet the farm on forging a different way of doing things. One that works with nature not against it, and bridges the quickly widening delta between consumers and their food. Armed with tenacity, conviction and an outsized tolerance for risk, Harris called his approach “radical traditional” and it made him the pioneer of regenerative agriculture long before the phrase existed.
At once an intimate, multi-generational memoir and a microcosm of American agriculture at large, A BOLD RETURN TO GIVING A DAMN offers a pathway back to producing food the right way. At a time when food supply chains are straining, climate-induced catastrophes are playing havoc with harvests, and concern around who owns America’s farmland are more prescient than ever, Will Harris urges us to consider where the food we eat really comes from, and to re-connect to the places and people who raise what we eat each day. With keen storytelling, a good dose of irreverence, and an unflinching willingness to speak truth to power, Harris shows us why it’s never been more important to know your farmer than now.
Featured in Food and Country directed by Laura Gabbert and Ruth Reichl
About the Author
Will Harris is the owner of White Oak Pastures, a holistically managed, regenerative ranch and farm in Georgia’s semi-tropical Coastal Plain. Described by his daughters as an “organic icon” of the Real Food movement, he is one of the very first people to bring grass-fed and humanely raised meat to the mainstream. Harris is one of the most outspoken critics of industrialized, centralized, and commoditized agriculture and is one of the most recognized leaders in the regenerative and resilient agriculture space. Heralded by everyone from Joe Rogan to the New York Times, White Oak Pastures has been covered by Forbes, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, NBC, and more. Chances are, if you’ve bought grass-fed meat at Publix, Whole Foods, or Kroger, you’ve probably eaten meat from Harris’ farm.
"There’s a lot to like about the book — Harris’s cheeky sense of humor, for one. And his exploration of his family’s roots, their sacrifices and hard-earned victories...But it’s Harris’s dogged insistence on explaining the hidden costs of the “abhorrently cheap food”...that makes the book so necessary."—The Washington Post
"A Bold Return to Giving a Damn is more than a memoir—it is a full exploration of the history of food production in this country, with all its beautiful and ugly aspects. It’s the education we all need to embrace."—NY Journal of Books
"A solution-based offering from a Georgia farmer who has practiced regenerative agriculture for over three decades...Throughout, Harris pushes readers to have the courage to give a damn about the future. Two of his adult daughters came back home to farm; inspired readers will want to join them."—Booklist
“A compelling argument for real food.”—Kirkus Review
“If I could have one wish it is that every eater in America would read this book. Smart, funny and compulsively readable, it explains everything you need to know about why our food is so bad and what we can do to fix it.” —Ruth Reichl, author of Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir “Will Harris is a visionary innovator who is successfully practicing regenerative agriculture …Today many people in conventional agriculture may choose to ignore this book, but in the future, they will have to start following many of his practices. In every industry, the little people are the innovators.” —Temple Grandin, Author of Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions “This is a story that needed telling and there’s no one better to tell it than Will Harris himself. It is a heart-stopping indictment of what our food system has become – by one who helped create it – and the stunning possibilities that opened up when he renounced it for a different way of raising food that has revitalized his land, its people and their local economy, and inspired thousands.” —Allan Savory, co-founder of the Savory Institute and co-author of Holistic Management “A profane and brilliant thinker who regards stewardship as a sacred commitment, Will Harris is the farmer we need to lead our nation out of an agribusiness wasteland, toward a greener paddock. His voice rings loud and true here, a bullhorn in the face of bullshit.” —John T Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers, host of TrueSouth and founding director of The Southern Foodways Alliance
“Some call Will a radical, some an instigator, some just plain crazy, but for those who know him he is simply a man of principles. Daring to go against the tide of conventional agriculture because it is simply the right thing to do. The current food system is broken. The White Oak Pastures model is one of the solutions. If you eat, you need to read this book.” —Gabe Brown author of Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture
"Our world is changing at an ever accelerating rate…one news headline tells us growing food in a lab is the way forward, that technology can solve ALL our problems. What if that’s not the case? What if the future of food looks more like an 18th century farm, integrating regenerative practices that can feed the planet indefinitely? Will Harris explores this potential in A Bold Return to Giving a Damn. If you care about the Earth, your food and a viable way forward, you need this book." —Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution and Wired To Eat
“The story of White Oak Pastures and the Harris family stands as an inspiration to anyone interested in regenerative farming, a cleaner environment and natural food. Will Harris' story provides a vision for a nation dotted with prosperous farms supporting generations of healthy citizens. Read and be inspired!” —Sally Fallon Morell, President of The Weston A. Price Foundation
“This book makes you believe in the good in the world again and want to pick up a shovel and do your part. The inspirational story of redemption- what happens when a stubborn, swearing, hardworking man halfway through his life decides to not just right a few wrongs, but lead the Calvary into a new way of farming. Somewhere between a love letter to the land and war cry for a changing the way we farm, eat, live and connect, Harris will inspire even the most skeptical amongst us.” —Leah Garces, president of Mercy for Animals
“Whether you are a CEO, a teacher, a parent, or a preacher, Will Harris’ story will touch your heart and make you think – two things we desperately need if we are going to take part in this revolution. Reader beware – you will feel the ancestral pull of returning to the land, getting your hands dirty, and starting your own farm. Simply put: If you eat, this book is for you. You will be changed forever and for good.” —Julia Johnson, M.S., M.Div., Head of Food Business, Compassion in World Farming
“Will Harris cared so much for making sure his farm and animals were raised right, he did everything perfectly on his farm when no one else did on their farms.” —Adele Douglass Jolley, Humane Farm Animal Care