For years, "sustainable" has been the buzzword in conversations about agriculture. If farmers and ranchers could slow or stop further damage to land and water, the thinking went, that was good enough. I thought that way too, until I started writing my new book, "One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl's Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture."
I grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota and once worked as an agricultural journalist. For me, agriculture is more than a topic - it is who I am. When I began working on my book, I thought I would be writing about sustainability as a response to the environmental damage caused by conventional agriculture - farming that is industrial and heavily reliant on oil and agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers.
But through research and interviews with farmers and ranchers around the United States, I discovered that sustainability's "give back what you take" approach, which usually just maintains or marginally improves resources already degraded by generations of conventional agriculture, does not adequately address the biggest long-term challenge farmers face: climate change.