Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Eating Responsibly

Wendell Berry’s collection of essays published in What Are People For? includes a particularly interesting essay entitled “The Pleasures of Eating.”

In this essay, Berry asserts that our culture has turned the act of eating into an utterly passive act so that the eater becomes merely a passive consumer. This problem results from how little most eaters know about the agricultural process of producing food. He writes, “When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous” (What Are People For?, page 146). He warns that there is a danger in not knowing about the food process, whereby we support an industry that only concerns intself with volume and price.

Photos by my husband.
Berry gives seven tips on how to eat responsibly:
  1. Participate in food production to the extent you can. He suggests having a little garden and making your compost to fertilize it.
  2. Prepare your own food. This gives you measure of “quality control” because you know what has been added to the food you eat.
  3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home.
  4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist.
  5. Learn as much as you can about the economy and technology of industrial food production. Berry says this is a matter of self-defense.
  6. Learn what is involved in the best farming and gardening.
  7. Learn of the life histories of the food species.

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