Review: Break From the Herd

A Documentary About Regenerative Agriculture

B. Lorraine Smith
5 min readDec 14, 2018


In my work I come across the theme of “emergence” a great deal. This is a fairly broad term and I think it’s worth embracing its breadth right off the top before we dive into a wonderful foray into regenerative agriculture put forth in a new documentary film. Wikipedia, that meta-definer of all things (and a living example of emergence, I might add), describes the term thus:

In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” meaning the whole has properties its parts do not have. These properties come about because of interactions among the parts.

I love this idea — that a new order is emerging to replace the old one. In a report on sustainable business models I co-authored with John Elkington and Jacqueline Lim of Volans in 2016, we spoke of a U-bend requiring us to let go of what’s not working and to embrace new models, allowing a more sustainable economy to take root. This idea builds explicitly on Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, which he describes in a recent article about the emergent global movement of renewal and regeneration.

But I love evidence of this actually happening even more than I love the idea. It doesn’t just feel warm and fuzzy, it feels like we’re stepping towards a natural, regenerative point in evolution. And I especially love that this regeneration is happening now.

Underscoring the Wikipedia reference to emergence being about philosophy, science and art, as well as whole systems — the documentary Break From the Herd is a case in point.

This is an uplifting and informative journey into the lives of three Americans who have made the transition to regenerative agricultural practices. The film uses the art form of documentary to portray what is equal parts philosophy and a reimagining of our food system. And it’s a joy to watch.

One of the people we meet is Dr. Jonathan Lundgren a former scientist with the USDA in South Dakota who left his politically fraught and obstacle-laden research role to found Blue Dasher Farm. He and his team now combine science and education to demonstrate the power of eco-system restoration through regenerative agriculture. Dr. Lundgren notes…



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B. Lorraine Smith

Recovering ESG "expert"; yarn spinner; distance runner; magical realist. Sensing a path to an economy serving life. also at