7.30.2015

Food Issues Book Club - Bringing It To the Table, Concluding Thoughts

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

Bringing It to the Table, Concluding Thoughts

I am pleased that I've now read Wendell Berry.  I can now say with authority that his work frustrates me on numerous levels.  He is a bit of a broken record on two subjects: that small well-balanced farms are best, and that petroleum is expensive and unsustainable.  I agree on both of these points, of course, but I do not need to read dozens of essays making these points repeatedly to understand them.  He has said these things early and often - more early and more often than nearly anyone - and they're concepts that the food industry is still largely ignoring.  There's a limit to the reach of one man's voice I suppose, even if that man is white and famous.

Which brings me to my next point of irritation with Berry.  I can't help but note that, as far as I can tell, Berry has never spoken to another human being who is not a white male.  This trend begins in this collection with Michael Pollan's somewhat nauseating introduction and just doesn't let up.  This could be partially reasoned away in that he is "of a certain generation" and has spent his life in an area of the country predominately populated by white people, but he doesn't even seem to have ever read something written by a person of color.  At least nothing worth referring to.  Also, it's hard for me to excuse the complete absence of women in this work (aside from the fictional passages not discussed here).  He must have come across them.  Surely the father of the seven Amish sons, for instance, had a wife who stuck around the farm for, bare minimum, seven-ish years?  Was she just always knocked up in a bedroom somewhere?  Could there really not be a single woman in all of Kentucky worth speaking to or about?  Berry's own wife really only gets an honorable mention for existing.

Sigh.

I've read Berry.  Huzzah.  I highly suggest reading Stupidity in Concentration, Energy in Agriculture, Agriculture from the Roots Up, and The Pleasures of Eating (get it here) to anyone with an interest in food on any level.  If you're extremely (EXTREMELY) interested in the intricacies of non-industiral farming (and don't mind an endless parade of white men), you should read this collection and all the rest.






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