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96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eating: An Agricultural Act
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...
Published on August 2, 2009 by Susan

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87 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
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...
Published on August 5, 2009 by Gregory L. Glover


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96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eating: An Agricultural Act, August 2, 2009
By 
Susan (Bertram, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
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." It includes seven elegiac essays that describe true farmers, not dependent on fossil fuels or large farm debt, in touch with their soils, their climates, their animals--people who understand and work within the limits of responsible husbandry. These farmers range from the traditional Amish to the Land Institute, where a radical new science adopts the natural ecosystem as "the first standard of agricultural performance."

The third section, "Food," brings farm husbandry and farm housewifery together, with excerpts from Berry's fiction: people sitting down to eat the food they have planted, raised, harvested, cooked, and served. It is beautifully illustrated by the cover image: Grant Wood's Dinner for Threshers. The painting frames Berry's argument that "eating is an agricultural act," that we must eat what is grown locally and prepared in our own kitchens, not prepackaged, precooked, premasticated. It also demonstrates what, in Berry's view, is the central stablizing force and foundation of the agricultural partnership: that women and men work together to unite household and farm, and that "traditional farm housewifery"--helping with the work of the farm, preserving the harvest, and preparing the family's food--is the essential contribution of women to the farm household economy. Within this context, it is an honored contribution, not to be "belittled" as "women's work."

As we face climate change, resource depletion, financial insecurity, and health issues created by poor food choices, the sustainable production and consumption of our food will undoubtedly be one of the most challenging issues of the twenty-first century. Wendell Berry has been trying to tell us this for many decades. It's high time we began to listen.
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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Berry's Greatest Hits - Good Works - Long Time Fans Beware, September 8, 2009
This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (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
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
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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87 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, August 5, 2009
By 
Gregory L. Glover (Indianapolis, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great messages, not just about agriculture, September 9, 2010
This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
This is a very thought-provoking book with a number of messages for all. The subject matter is farming primarily in the United States and it is a worthwhile read for that alone. More, Mr. Berry sends us several life messages that strike me as very wise: seek and demand variety in all that you do, avoid excessive specialization; invest in what interests you and do not seek short-cuts, use the best and least harmful materials (and processes), and the slow way can be the best way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use their heads a little bit, October 10, 2009
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
Another book to be treasured from Wendell Berry. The book is composed of essays Berry has written over many years and is in three sections. The first lays out what a real farm should look like and how it should be run thinking in terms of its viability over time. That involves studying and coming to know the actual land the farm is on, animals and crops and ways of farming need to be adapted to that particular piece of land. In other words, farming involves having eyes wide open and thinking. Berry states that those in government would benefit from this model.

"If the people in our state and national governments undertook to evaluate economic enterprises by the standards of long-term economics, they would have to employ their minds in actual thinking. For many of them, this would be a shattering experience, something altogether new, but it would also cause them to learn things and do things that would improve the lives of their constituents."

In the second section, Berry profiles farmers whom he admires - and that is high praise indeed. "A Good Farmer of the Old School" is a wonderful explanation of farming that makes sense.

Lancie Clippinger "is taking his own advice, and his advice comes from his experience and the experience of farmers like him, not from experts who are not farmers. For those reasons, Lancie Clippinger is doing all right. He is farming well and earning a living by it in a time when many farmers are farming poorly and making money for everybody but themselves.

'I don't know what they mean,'he says. 'You'd think some in the bunch would use their heads a LITTLE bit.'"

The third section of the book is titled "The Pleasures of Eating" and consists of excerpts from Berry's fiction centered on cooking and eating and the communal joys of eating real food around a table. Reading this section brings back fond memories of Wendell Berry's fiction I have loved through the years and adds to my motivation to keep on cooking up the vegetable dishes I create from my community supported agriculture share.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rich Compilation, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
How one compiles a collection of essays and short stories matters more than the newness of the texts themselves. In other words, the right and thoughtful ordering of Berry's ideas on food and farming are what make this compilation such a beautiful work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, readable, timeless, June 24, 2011
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
I recently purchased this book because of my interest in agriculture, and my appreciation of Berry's poetry, esp. "The Peace of Wild Things." This book has absolutely stunned me with its clarity, its readability, its wisdom, and the clear original voice of the author. It is rare for me to read a "smart" book like this without having to take frequent breaks to digest what I'm reading/to make sure I'm following the convoluted sentences. Not here. The material here is covered in a tone that is at once cogent and conversational. I find myself reading longer than I intend to when I sit down to revisit a favorite essay.

I love the way that Wendell Berry doesn't fall into any sort of crazy ideological discussions, as environmentalists are wont to do. He thinks what he thinks, and it is coherent and consistent, but it's also not much like anyone else; I never felt like he fit into some clear category of thinker. He seems to be utterly unconcerned with pushing an agenda, as his agenda requires no pushing, only the most basic imparting of information. He respects his reader, and when you read his work, you'll see what I mean.

This book is great if you like Michael Pollan's work. You'll see why he wrote the introduction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First Wendell Berry book, May 19, 2014
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Claudia A. Haile (Corning, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Paperback)
Enjoy the book - being my first Wendell Berry book it is a great introduction to this clear thinker. Wish I had found it sooner!
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5.0 out of 5 stars a must to read, April 5, 2014
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should be required reading for everyone who professes to be human, and anyone who is planning to run for office. if you don't ask yourself "what the hell have we become ......" read it again !
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Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food
Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry (Paperback - August 18, 2009)
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