Wendell Berry, from Chronicle of Higher Education, via Grist.org, speaking at the National Endowment of Humanities:
Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry. Photo via Grist.org
“…“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,” Berry told the crowd at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “At the same time, the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny. Corporate industrialism itself has exposed the falsehood that it ever was inevitable or that it ever has given precedence to the common good.”
The Jefferson Lecture “is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities,” according to the NEH, which sponsors it every year.
Before the speech, Berry wryly commended the NEH’s courage in inviting him without first reading his remarks. At the end of the event, NEH Chair Jim Leach humorously added: “The views of the speaker do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States government.” Continue reading
Bill Marler, in the Huffington Post, from a story titled “What is the ‘future of food’ without food safety”:
“I attended the Future of Food Conference in Washington D.C. this last week and was amazed by the speakers that author Eric Schlosser and the Washington Post put together. From Lucas Benitez, Co-Founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Wendell Berry, Author, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc. and even The Prince of Wales popped in only days after the wedding of the century for the keynote address.
It was truly an impressive list of speakers with a deep commitment to issues surrounding the future of food, and with a clear commitment to a vision of small, organic agriculture. The discussions ranged from workers rights to GMOs, from frozen vegetables to global warming. Obesity was also discussed along with the trend of booming backyard gardens. Sustainability was the catchword of the day along with going local, organic farming and the ever-present mantra, “know your farmer, know your food.” Lunch was served family style touting local, organic agriculture — meat and vegetables. White House Chef Sam Kass shared recipes as some in the audience gushed how hot (not temperature) the president’s chef was. Continue reading
Fred Clark, writing on The Slacktivist blog:
“That picture there (by AP photographer Charles Dharapak) shows President Barack Obama presenting Wendell Berry with a 2010 National Humanities Medal on Wednesday at the White House.
Wendell Berry scares me. He is a poet, novelist, essayist, farmer, husband, conservationist, radical and gentleman. He writes with an unrivaled clarity of language, clarity of thought and clarity of conviction. It’s that conviction that scares me, because often when I read Wendell Berry I can’t help but think that if he is right, then a great deal of the rest of the world is wrong. And he usually seems to be right.
His Port Royal novels are gently beautiful, slowly building a world that sneaks up on you. But his collections of essays are probably my favorites. Let me recommend Home Economics, What Are People For?, The Hidden Wound and, oh let’s say, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, for starters. Continue reading
Some insights on the state of farming today, via Salt Spring News:
"The very next year we wrote a parody of Country Joe's "I Feel-like-I'm-fixin'-to-die Rag" and called it "The Monsanto Rag" which became our first ever song." -- Synister Dane and the Kickapoo Disco Cosmonuts (via Salt Spring News)
“It ought to be obvious that in order to have sustainable agriculture, you have got to make sustainable the lives and livelihoods of the people who do the work. The land cannot thrive if the people who are its users and caretakers do not thrive. Ecological sustainability requires a complex local culture as the preserver of the necessary knowledge and skill; and this in turn requires a settled, stable, prosperous local population of farmers and other land users. It ought to be obvious that agriculture cannot be made sustainable by a dwindling population of economically depressed farmers and a growing population of migrant workers. Continue reading
Excerpt from a letter to Wendell Berry from Lindsay Harris:
“Dear Mr. Berry,
Farmer Lindsay Harris pours raw milk.
I had trouble sleeping tonight. It could be on account of the big moon outside or that my mind keeps coming back to Mr. Dean Pierson. He was a dairy farmer in Copake, NY. A few days ago he shot all 51 of his milkers then took his own life right there with them in the barn. Corporate control of our food system is literally breaking the backs of farmers. Maybe he had deep emotional troubles. But I wonder if things might have turned out differently for Mr. Pierson if he had been getting a fair price for his milk. Here in the northeast, farmers have been getting paid around a $1 per gallon for their milk for a while now. The price of equipment and cows is way down on account of everyone getting out at the same time. The situation is bleak.
My name is Lindsay Harris. Since I was a very little girl, I knew I wanted to farm with animals. I got my chance just over 3 years ago. Now I own a tiny dairy farm in Northern Vermont. I milk six Jersey and Guernsey cows. I hope to be milking 12 or so by next year. All the milk is sold un pasteurized, directly to my neighbors. I also raise beef, pork, eggs and big garden. I also teach classes on how to make cheese, butter, yogurt etc. Continue reading