Wendell Berry on Small-scale Farming in Good Times and Bad

Published by Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

Quote from Wendell Berry‘s Bringing it to the Table, On Farming and Food, introduction by Michael Pollan

In the time when my memories begin –the late 1930s — people in the country did not go around empty-handed as much as they do now. As I remember them from that time, farm people on the way somewhere characteristically had buckets or kettles or baskets in their hands, sometimes sacks on their shoulders.

Those were hard times — not unusual in our agricultural history — and so a lot of the fetching and carrying had to do with foraging, searching the fields and woods for nature’s free provisions: greens in the spring-time, fruits and berries in the summer, nuts in the fall. There was fishing in warm weather and hunting in cold weather; people did these things for food and for pleasure, not for “sport.” The economies of many households were small and thorough, and people took these season opportunities seriously.

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  • Sofie Dittmann
    October 25, 2011

    When we moved to the US, I was flabberghasted not being able to find game on the menu at ANY restaurant we visited… Until it dawned on me that everybody hunts, and a couple of people I know regard venison as something from the past they would not dream of touching.

    • Jonell Galloway
      October 26, 2011

      So true. I wonder if Americans don’t relate game to the pioneer days, so only poor people who don’t have money to buy ribeye and prime rib end up eating the game they kill. They don’t know what they’re missing!

  • Camille de Fleurville
    March 15, 2013

    It reminds me of this wonderful study that was made by Ronald Blythe in “Arkenfield” – history of an English village in East-Anglia and published in 1969.
    But it is the same in France. The countryside is more and more used for extensive farming and instead of blackberrying, people buy jam pots in supermarkets (with interesting inngredients inside)…

  • Jonell Galloway
    March 17, 2013

    I think it is the same in most of the developed world, Camille. After the war, it became fashionable to eat store-bought food. In the sixties, frozen food appeared on the scene, including the infamous TV dinners. After that, it’s been all downhill until recently, when some people started yearning for a connection to the land. Wendell Berry has never lost his intimacy with the land and farming. That’s why he’s our champion