"Eating is an agricultural act” is from Wendell Berry’s essay, “The Pleasures of Eating,” in his book, What Are People For? (1990). Many people aren’t involved directly in farming, but Berry wrote that simply the choice of foods that a person eats is an agricultural act.
Berry’s “eating is an agricultural act” has become a much-quoted wisdom with many food writers, such as Michael Pollan.
Wikipedia: Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934, Henry County, Kentucky) is an American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. He is a prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is also an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
What Are People For? New York: North Point, 1990.
“Eating is an Agricultural Act” - Brian Harris Photography
posted by on 2008-11-26 15:41:33
Wendell Berry, an American farmer, academic and social critic, incorporated the expression “Eating is an Agricultural Act” into his essay The Pleasure of Eating. One of the essential messages in that essay was that, by our choice of what we eat, we influence profoundly what Berry calls “the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth”. By making these choices we are active participants in agriculture, for better or for worse. He encourages us to reclaim responsibility for our part in the food economy - “reclaim” because, as things stand, we tend to remain blind to what is happening in the world of agriculture and food production.
Santa Clara University
A Short Course in Environmental Ethics
Eating and Agricultural Ethics
By Keith Douglass Warner OFM, with David DeCosse
Eating is an agricultural and ethical act
In “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” Wendell Berry described the general exodus of people from farms to cities and its implications for society and agriculture. He critiqued the wide range of social and environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, and decried modern society’s alienation from the farm and environment. He argued that the kind of farming people do reveals their assumed land ethic, their environmental values. In a short essay titled “The Pleasures of Eating” he argued that eating is an agricultural act, meaning that all humans are involved in agriculture, whether directly or indirectly, and that how we eat shapes how land is treated. Berry was one of many people who criticized shallow thinking about the environment, the assumption that “pure” nature is only in parks and wilderness areas. He explained how social and environmental values were incorporated in agricultural institutions (scientific, government, private industry) and patterns of thought about agriculture.
Michael Pollan: People Are Finally Talking About Food, and You Can Thank Wendell Berry for That
Wendell Berry’s now-famous formulation, “eating is an agricultural act”—is perhaps his signal contribution to the rethinking of food and farming under way today.
September 10, 2009
This article is adapted from Michael Pollan’s introduction to Bringing It to the Table, a collection of Wendell Berry’s writings out this fall from Counterpoint.
The Contrary Farmer
The Pleasures of Eating – Wendell Berry
In Guest Posts on December 10, 2009 at 11:29 am
From WENDELL BERRY
What Are People For? (1989)
Many times, after I have finished a lecture on the decline of American farming and rural life, someone in the audience has asked, “What can city people do?”
“Eat responsibly,” I have usually answered. Of course, I have tried to explain what I meant by that, but afterwards I have invariably felt that there was more to be said than I had been able to say. Now I would like to attempt a better explanation.
I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture.