Wendell Berry Food and Farming Quotes

By Sunday, August 4, 2013 Permalink 0


Wendell Berry Food and Farming Quotes

“I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.” (What Are People For?)

Wendell Berry, photo courtesy of Festival of Faiths

Wendell Berry, photo courtesy of Festival of Faiths











“Eating is an agricultural act.” (What Are People for Essays By Wendell B)

“The passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared food, confronts inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any part of any creature that ever lived. The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry. Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality.”

“Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living in a mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”

“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us… What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce.”

“But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is “in.” In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand. (pg. 85, “Think Little”)” (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)

Bem no sul deste País
Eduardo Amorim / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating. (pg. 88, “Think Little”) (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)

“The Satisfactions of the Mad Farmer…the quiet in the woods of a summer morning, the voice of a pewee passing through it like a tight silver wire; …” (The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982)

“If we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce. We will see that beauty and utility are alike dependent upon the health of the world. But we will also see through the fads and the fashions of protest. We will see that war and oppression and pollution are not separate issues, but are aspects of the same issue. Amid the outcries for the liberation of this group or that, we will know that no person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man’s only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place – a much humbler place than we have been taught to think – in the order of creation.
(pg.89, “Think Little”)” (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)

“He imagines a necessary joy in things that must fly to eat.”

“Until we understand what the land is, we are at odds with everything we touch. And to come to that understanding it is necessary, even now, to leave the regions of our conquest – the cleared fields, the towns and cities, the highways – and re-enter the woods. For only there can a man encounter the silence and the darkness of his own absence. Only in this silence and darkness can he recover the sense of the world’s longevity, of its ability to thrive without him, of his inferiority to it and his dependence on it. Perhaps then, having heard that silence and seen that darkness, he will grow humble before the place and begin to take it in – to learn from it what it is. As its sounds come into his hearing, and its lights and colors come into his vision, and its odors come into his nostrils, then he may come into its presence as he never has before, and he will arrive in his place and will want to remain. His life will grow out of the ground like the other lives of the place, and take its place among them. He will be with them – neither ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them, nor against them – and so at last he will grow to be native-born. That is, he must reenter the silence and the darkness, and be born again. (pg. 27, “A Native Hill”)” (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)

“Il ne nous suffit pas de comprendre nos obligations à l’égard des autres et de la terre; nous devons aussi les ressentir.”



  • Wendell Berry: No technological fix to climate change
  • Wendell Berry – The Real Work
  • A Poem For Sunday
  • A Poem For Saturday
  • Composer of Wendell Berry songs is interviewed

France: How Reducing Food Waste is Part of Fighting Hunger

By Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Permalink 0

France: How Reducing Food Waste is Part of Fighting Hunger

An initiative on the part of the French Ministry of Agriculture creates a link between professionals from the agrifood sector and public charities with the aim of reducing food waste and fighting hunger. It is referred to as the French National Pact against Food Waste.

A practical example: the “donation market”

The “donation market” is an initiative from the French Ministry of Agriculture to create a link between professionals from the agrifood sector and public charities. This idea arose out of the fact that professionals and charitable associations both have difficulty finding contacts, and don’t have time to give away food for free or find donors, says the French government. This public Internet platform responds to these difficulties and is easy to implement. Donors propose  the kind of donation they want to make as well as its conditions of use and its transportation on the platform itself. As soon as it is posted on the Internet, all  potential “receivers” are alerted by e-mail and can accept it. Donors can propose either food, equipment, transportation or knowledge on the platform.




As well as helping connect people and fighting hunger, this platform is also a way of reducing food waste, as it encourages people to give food rather than to throw it away and to offer extra room in transportation, for example.

Origin of Food Waste and Means of Action

In their Agrimonde and Dualine projects, French researchers from CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research for Development,  and INRA, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, examined possible systems of production and supply to feed the world in 2050. According to them, feeding 9 billion people by 2050 is possible so long as we:

  • increase yield in a sustainable way
  • reduce waste from field to fork
  • manage to change our food habits

They insist on the fact that wasting food also means wasting the energy, soil and water used to produce it, and will in turn be used to destroy the waste. Researchers also make a distinction between food loss, which occurs during the early stage of production (just after the harvest, during the first storage, transport, and first transformation) and which mostly concerns poor countries, and food waste, which is due to consumption habits (at home, in restaurants) or mismanagement of storage in the retail sector. Food waste mostly concerns rich countries. Food waste and food loss of course require different solutions.



To reduce food waste by 50% before 2025, the European Commission has proposed guidelines to Member States:

  • to educate people
  • to encourage better labeling and packaging
  • to ask Member States to favor partnership with responsible catering companies

Examples are also provided, such as:

  • to produce a new “sell-by date” label
  • to encourage new sizes of packaging for better preservation of products
  • to teach children good practices for proper use of food




Key Data

In the European Union, food waste comes from:

  • 42% from domestic use
  • 39% from the food-industry
  • 5% from retailers
  • 14% from the catering sector
  • every individual wastes 394 lbs. per year
  • 89 million metric tons of food are wasted each year in the 27 countries of the EU

To learn more about this subject, here is the French National Pact against Food Waste.

Based on press release from the French Ministry of Agriculture



Jonell Galloway: Mindful Eating: Farmers, the Land, and Local Economy

By Monday, April 1, 2013 Permalink 0

Mindful Eating: Farmers, the Land, and Local Economy

by Jonell Galloway

Many times, after I have finished a lecture on the decline of American farming and rural life, someone in the audience has asked, “What can city people do?” “Eat responsibly,” I have usually answered. Of course, I have tried to explain what I mean by that, but afterwards I have invariably felt there was more to be said than I had been able to say. Now I would like to attempt a better explanation.

 I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as “consumers.”

—Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating, Center for Ecoliteracy

The Times They are a-Changin’: Move Towards a Local Economy

After a few very difficult years, we are now only starting  to talk about the importance, and even necessity, of maintaining and supporting a local economy. This is important not only to our health and taste buds, but also to our vital economic self-sufficiency. It is perfectly in line with the concept of Mindful Eating, and, by definition, involves local farmers as well as others who contribute to eating and drinking.

Daily Food Quotes: Farm Philosophy from Wendell Berry

By Sunday, March 24, 2013 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

For 50 or 60 years, we have let ourselves believe that as long as we have money we will have food. This is a mistake. If we continue our offenses against the land and the labor by which we are fed, the food supply will decline, and we will have a problem far more complex than the failure of our paper economy. The government will bring forth no food by providing hundreds of billions of dollars to the agribusiness corporations.

Wendell Berry, “in the op-ed piece he published with his old friend and collaborator Wes Jackson, shortly after the economy crashed in the fall of 2008.” (Michael Pollan, in introduction to Wendell Berry’s Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food).


Wendell Berry speaking in Frankfort, Indiana

Wendell Berry speaking in Frankfort, Indiana














Wendell Berry Interview, by Mark Bittman

By Friday, March 15, 2013 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

There’s probably no better short overview of Wendell Berry‘s views on agriculture and sustainability than Mark Bittman‘s interview of Berry in The New York Times in 2012.

Wendell Berry speaking in Frankfort, Indiana

Wendell Berry speaking in Frankfort, Indiana












Here are a few excerpts about agriculture and sustainability:

“That’s one of Wendell’s recurring themes: Listen to the land.”

“If you imitate nature, you’ll use the land wisely.”

“The two great aims of industrialism — replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy — seem close to fulfillment.”

Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman (Photo credit: rebuildingdemocracy)











“You can describe the predicament that we’re in as an emergency, and your trial is to learn to be patient in an emergency.”

“[N]o great feat is going to happen to change all this; you’re going to have to humble yourself to be willing to do it one little bit at a time. You can’t make people do this. What you have to do is notice that they’re already doing it.”

“I’ve been thinking about that question about what city people can do. The main thing is to realize that country people can’t invent a better agriculture by ourselves. Industrial agriculture wasn’t invented by us, and we can’t uninvent it. We’ll need some help with that.”

Read The New York Times entire article here.




Local vs. Non-local Food: The Arguments

By Saturday, January 12, 2013 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

I think we got spoiled by eating cheap food from all over the world. That put us out of sync with nature and skewed the price of local produce and products vs. produce and products from distant places, leading us to waste what we once had held precious because it was seasonal and local and therefore rare. Slow Food USA and Josh Viertel were right in fighting for fair wages for our own farmers and trying to lead us back to a way of eating that is in line with nature, which of course means paying a little more, but improving our health and local economy.









There are many more arguments to be put forth. Let’s talk about it: the pros and cons, your experiences, your convictions, etc. We’d love to get a big discussion going here.

Click here to watch Building a Slow Food Nation, outlining the history of Slow Food in the U.S., and including Josh Viertel’s view.



Will the “lost decade” change our wasteful ways when it comes to food?

By Monday, January 30, 2012 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

The Hard Facts, the Numbers

Launched in 2007 by WRAP, the 'Love Food, Hate...







Now that food prices are on the rise and people in developed countries are tightening their purse strings, we are beginning what IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde refers to as the “lost decade.” We are starting to think about food waste and food budgets — not something we talked much about over the last few decades. Unless we were in finance, we watched the price of cacao, but not much else.

“The average British shopper estimates that they bin almost 10% of the food bought in their weekly shop, while 8% admit to throwing away as much as a quarter of their food on a regular basis, according to new research on Monday,” says The Guardian.

USDA: new guidelines for calculating fertilizer; runoff producing over-nutrition in waterways

By Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Permalink 0

Around the world, environmentalists and scientists are mobilizing to fight the plague of over-nutrition due to over-fertilization

The problem with farming today — whether fertilizer be conventional or natural — is that fertilizer runoff produces over-nutrition of waterways and other natural habitats.
USDA logo








So around the world, environmentalists and scientists are mobilizing to fight the plague of over-nutrition. That’s where the new USDA document comes in. It lays out a host of steps that farmers can take — and will have to take, if they get funding from certain USDA programs — to minimize the spread of nutrients outside farm fields.

Essentially, it involves putting farmland on a sensible diet. Only feed the land as much as it really needs. And don’t apply fertilizer, including manure, when the crops don’t need it. Also, try to capture and store any excess nutrients. For instance, grow wintertime “cover crops” that can trap free nitrogen before it leaches into groundwater.

Click here to read this on NPR’s blog.

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