It was a cold night, but a hearty group came out to Linden Hills Co-op last week to discuss Wendell Berry's Bringing it to the Table for the latest meeting of the SGT Book Club. The book, an anthology of some of Berry's best-known and best-loved essays, was a winner, to say the least. The book is divided into three parts -- Farming, Farmers, and Food -- and the discussion ranged over all of these aspects, as we looked at Berry's writing and ideas specifically and also talked more generally about our own experiences with local food and farming and our own ideas and concerns for the future.
First, the book. Wendell Berry is known for his provocative and prescient writing on local food and agriculture. A farmer himself, Berry has a deep and and convincing knowledge of the issues facing small farms, the environment, and consumers. He is best known for his nonfiction essays, but he also writes poetry and fiction, and that artistic touch pervades his work. While his prose seems deceptively simple -- effortless, even -- each sentence merits examination and meditation. In fact, one reader said that he was taking notes with a highlighter, and more of the text ended up yellow than not. Berry's is the kind of writing that makes you want to highlight every word: beautiful, specific, wise.
In addition to the book, we also talked at length about our own experiences, questions, and challenges with local food. Much of the discussion centered around each person sharing their take on how they do their grocery shopping, with several in the group weighing in at an impressive 100% co-op. We also talked about city living versus country living, and what it is like to be a small farmer today.
Thanks to everyone who came and helped foster such an engaging, thought-provoking discussion!
Please join us for the next SGT Book Club on Wednesday, March 27th at Linden Hills Co-op. We'll be discussing Joel Salatin's Folks, This Ain't Normal. (You might recognize Salatin as the chicken farmer with the mobile coop from the documentary Food, Inc. or from Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.)
Claire Stanford is a writer and editor at Simple, Good, and Tasty. She last wrote the SGT Gift Guide: 2012 Cookbook Round-Up. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at @clairemiye.