Wendell Berry is one of my favorite writers, as well as someone who I look up to. If I could sit down to dinner with any one person living today, it would either be the Dali Lama or Wendell Berry. I own several of Berry's books of poetry and essays, but this is one that I have overlooked until now. I was researching organic gardening at the library yesterday when I ran across Bringing It To The Table: On Farming and Food in the library collection. Again, Mr. Berry impresses me with his wisdom, this time about our modern food system and what is wrong with it.
Anyone interested in sustainable farming and the future of our food system (which should be everybody) needs to read this impressive book. In fact, I think it should be required reading in high school agriculture programs and agriculture colleges. While many of these issues are just now becoming widely discussed, Berry has been talking about these issues for years and sadly few were listening. His very profound essay, Agriculture Solutions for Agriculture Problems, talks about the problems with factory farming and industrial agriculture. He describes the system as a failure and outlines its weaknesses in a dependency on chemical fertilizers, an economic and industrial organization, and an absolute dependence of most of the population on this organization with no back up system. In other words, if the system fails the general population will have no knowledge or land to grow their own food. He originally published this article in 1978, yet our society is only now taking note of these problems.
It is time, for our own health and the health of our food system, that we finally start listening to Wendell Berry.