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Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food [Paperback]

by Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 18, 2009 158243543X 978-1582435435

Only a farmer could delve so deeply into the origins of food, and only a writer of Wendell Berry’s caliber could convey it with such conviction and eloquence. Long before Whole Foods organic produce was available at your local supermarket, Berry was farming with the purity of food in mind. For the last five decades, Berry has embodied mindful eating through his land practices and his writing. In recognition of that influence, Michael Pollan here offers an introduction to this wonderful collection.

Drawn from over thirty years of work, this collection joins bestsellers The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Pollan, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, as essential reading for anyone who cares about what they eat. The essays address such concerns as: How does organic measure up against locally grown? What are the differences between small and large farms, and how does that affect what you put on your dinner table? What can you do to support sustainable agriculture?

A progenitor of the Slow Food movement, Wendell Berry reminds us all to take the time to understand the basics of what we ingest. “Eating is an agriculture act,” he writes. Indeed, we are all players in the food economy.

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Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food + The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture + What Are People For?: Essays
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Berrys themes are reflections of his life: friends, family, the farm, the nature around us as well as within. He speaks strongly for himself and sometimes for the lost heart of the country. As he has borne witness to the world for eight decades, what he offers us now in this new collection of poems is of incomparable value. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (August 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158243543X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582435435
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eating: An Agricultural Act August 2, 2009
By Susan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bringing It to the Table is a treasure-house of Wendell Berry's work, an important collection of essays and excerpts gathered from his essays and fiction. A cantankerous, argumentative, eloquent writer who knows farming and food from field to table, Berry has been writing for more than forty years about the sadly declining state of American agriculture, the dangers of industrialized food farming, and the importance to the human community--and to the human body, mind, and soul--of good husbandry. If you've been reading Berry over the years (my husband and I chose an excerpt from The Unsettling of America for our wedding ceremony in 1986), you'll find some jewels here, all the richer for their association with other pieces in the collection. If you're new to Berry's work, you'll be astonished at his prescience: as Michael Pollan writes in his introduction, Berry is among the very first to point out the dangers of our American industrial agriculture and our disastrous separation of food production from food preparation and consumption.

Bringing It to the Table is divided into three sections. In "Farming," the essays (1971-2004) provide a compelling review of the central argument of all Berry's work: that we must "adopt nature as measure" and create farming practices that deeply connected to the "nature of the particular place." Industrial agriculture arming ignores and attempts to overcome the natural limits of place, seasons, soils, and resources. It is, Berry warns, "a failure on its way to being a catastrophe."

This place-focus continues in the second section, "Farmers.
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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I rated the (first) one-star review helpful, but I'd also rate it unfair. As the list below will show, long-time fans probably have all the works in this volume on their bookshelves. The value in this collection lies in the way that it draws together works on the topic at hand. If you're new to Berry, this is a reasonable place to start. If the points made by the favorable reviews appeal to you, check it out. Not everybody is going to buy every book or CD by a writer/singer, so sometimes a compilation based on a theme is a good choice. With one exception for the list below, I have all of the non-fiction in this book, so I am going to pass

Essay title ---- Appears in
Nature as Measure ---- What Are People For?
Stupidity in Concentration ---- Citizenship Papers
Agricultural Solutions for Agricultural Problems ---- The Gift of Good Land
A Defense of the Family Farm ---- Home Economics
Let the Farm Judge ---- Citizenship Papers
Energy in Agriculture ---- The Gift of Good Land
Conservationist and Agrarian ---- Citizenship Papers
Sanitation and the Small Farm ---- The Gift of Good Land
Renewing Husbandry ---- The Way of Ignorance
Seven Amish Farms ---- The Gift of Good Land
A Good Farmer of the Old School ---- Home Economics
Charlie Fisher ---- The Way of Ignorance
A Talent for Necessity ---- The Gift of Good Land
Elmer Lapp's Place ---- The Gift of Good Land
On the Soil and Health ---- Intro to The University Press of Kentucky 2007 ed of Howard's On the Soil & Health
Agriculture from the Roots Up ---- The Way of Ignorance
The Pleasures of Eating ---- What Are People For?
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Berry on farming August 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent introduction to Wendell Berry's thought on farming and food. My main interest in reading Berry stemmed from reading Michael Pollan, who quotes Berry repeatedly in Omnivore's Dilemma. I had known about Berry and his poetry for many years, of course, but this collection seemed to be a good way in, rather than through his novels or poetry. I was initially concerned that the essays might seem dated or be too repetitive of the same points, and so I was delighted to discover that each essay, written between 1971 and 2006, seemed as fresh and relevant to me today as when they were written. Berry's essays on the Amish and a farmer by the name of Lancie Clippinger are absolute gems. All of the pages in this book are infused with a deep appreciation of the natural world and its astonishing interconnectedness. They approach the transcendent but never overreach.
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86 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed August 5, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The reason for the low rating is the personal disappointment over having purchased a book that is merely a compilation in newly repackaged form of material I already own.

Pros:
+It is Wendell Berry.
+The book contains a good selection of his non-fiction and even some fiction excerpts.
+The content covers important and timely subjects, some with obvious prescience.

Cons:
-The material has all appeared elsewhere, so if you already own a substantial number of Berry books you already own a substantial number of these essays.
-There aren't many if any citations, so it isn't possible from the book to track back to the previous publications (In other words, if you are introduced to new Berry material by reading this book, it may be hard to figure out where that non-fiction essay appeared previously so that that you can go get the rest of what you've been missing).
-The collection lacks samples of Berry's poetry on the same subjects.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a must to read
should be required reading for everyone who professes to be human, and anyone who is planning to run for office. Read more
Published 19 days ago by edward d. firth
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and simple reading.
I love how Mr. Berry writes about people he meets that have so much to share about husbandry, farming, etc. He writes in a way that I understand and very captivating. Read more
Published 2 months ago by alicia ocanas
5.0 out of 5 stars A great take on how healthy communities run, not just on what they eat...
Berry writes very well about the cultural side of farming. His nostalgia is a bit tiring sometimes ("life was better in the past" is an over-arching theme) yet he writes... Read more
Published 5 months ago by James B. Kell
2.0 out of 5 stars Bringing it to the Table
I liked the beginning of the book and agree with Berry regarding the smaller family farm but it seems too out of date. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Carol B
4.0 out of 5 stars A Considered Case for A Sensible Agriculture Policy
Wendell Berry considers the whole story about America's current system of food production. Measuring agricultural success only in terms of the size of the crops fails to tell the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. J. Stockton
5.0 out of 5 stars More Great Wendell Berry Wisdom
I bought this book as a gift for one of my household members. I can't wait until they are done so I can add it to my list of the other great Wendell Berry books of true wisdom I... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ken Haden
5.0 out of 5 stars very thought provoking
Though I disagree with some of the opinions of the author, the collection was very thought provoking and opens for civil discussion many of the issues that plague our dependence on... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bert Macklin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rich Compilation
How one compiles a collection of essays and short stories matters more than the newness of the texts themselves. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J.R.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, readable, timeless
I recently purchased this book because of my interest in agriculture, and my appreciation of Berry's poetry, esp. "The Peace of Wild Things. Read more
Published on June 24, 2011 by MightyMighty
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing it to the Table
Wendell Berry has been writing for many years about farming and he is particularly relevant in the new sustainable food movement.
Published on June 22, 2011 by Molly
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