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December 2008
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February 2009

Blog Watch: WB on the death penalty

Danzig U.S.A.: Wendell Berry Makes Public Statement on the Death Penalty.

[Not to be altered in any way without the approval of Wendell Berry]

“As I am made deeply uncomfortable by the taking of a human life before birth, I am also made deeply uncomfortable by the taking of a human life after birth. Obviously, it can be well argued that the world would be better off if certain people had never been born or if they had been killed in early youth by a fall from a tree. And I certainly can imagine circumstances in which I might kill another person. But I don’t believe that mere humans have the mental or moral capacity to decide rightfully, let alone infallibly, that another human should be killed. As I don’t condone the illegal killing of a human by a human, I cannot condone the legal killing of a human by a human. One killing is not rectified or atoned for by the addition of a second. An illegal killing is in no way made better by a legal killing. A society is not made saner or more morally secure by the deputation in it of legalized killers. Whereas many illegal killings are done in hot blood, legal killings are always done in cold blood and with a procedural deliberation that is horrifying. Hot-blooded killing is of course horrifying also, but to me it is more understandable. Probably we have no choice against illegal killing, which continues to happen against the wishes of nearly everybody. But it is possible, morally and rationally, to choose to withhold one’s approval from legal killing, and I so choose.”

[Not to be altered in any way without the approval of Wendell Berry].

 --Wendell Berry
Port Royal, KY
January 23, 2009

Blog Watch: it's sustainability, stupid

Bentley Farm Gazette: Tired of Stimulus Packages? Here's a Different Approach..

In a time where it could be argued that America has maxed out all of its credit cards and is applying for a new line of credit so that it can support life as we know it, Berry seemingly asks, "Why support life as we know it?" Maybe that is the problem. Maybe we are realizing that life as we know it is unsustainable. Berry proposes a progression from globalization to community-centric living: to community economics, to community trade, to community agriculture.

WB cited in Harvard discussion

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Writers Discuss Nature Lit..

Harvard Museum of Natural History Executive Director Elisabeth A. Werby ’72 used the words of conservationist Wendell Berry—“the only thing we have to protect nature with is culture”—to underline the importance of nature writing, especially in light the grave modern climate change situation.

Payne said that as a nature writer, she finds that humans’ separation from nature is a more severe crisis than either global warming or the decimation of forests.

Pollan moderates Slow Food panel - Slow Food Nation: The World Food Crisis.

Herbst Theater
San Francisco, CA
Aug 29th, 2008

It's widely acknowledged that we are in the middle of a world food crisis. Skyrocketing food and fuel costs, water scarcity, and population explosions have communities worldwide in the grip of hunger and dire food shortages. Come listen to four of the foremost authorities on the subject as they share forecasts and potential solutions for this immense global challenge - Slow Food Nation

Wes Jackson interviewed

Is America on the Brink of a Food Crisis? | Environment | AlterNet.

Wes Jackson: For the past 50 or 60 years, we have followed industrialized agricultural policies that have increased the rate of destruction of productive farmland. For those 50 or 60 years, we have let ourselves believe the absurd notion that as long as we have money we will have food. If we continue our offenses against the land and the labor by which we are fed, the food supply will decline, and we will have a problem far more complex than the failure of our paper economy.

We need to reverse that destructive process, which means recognizing the need for fundamental changes in the way agriculture is practiced. That requires thinking beyond the next quarterly earnings report of the agribusiness corporations and beyond this fiscal year of the feds. We need farm bills -- laid out in five-year segments, with a view to the next 50 years -- that can be mileposts for moving agriculture from an extractive to a renewable economy.

A not-so-new, brief essay

Edible Brooklyn - Winter 2008.

The link above brings you to the Contents for Edible Brooklyn's Winter 2008 edition. See page 50: FOOD FOR THOUGHT | New Year’s Revolutions: What city people can do.

When you click the link on the magazine's index page, your computer will download a pdf file that can be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader or (if yr a Mac guy like me) Preview.

Thanks to Brooklyn Farmer for the heads up.

UPDATE: The essay turns out to be a re-packaging of "The Pleasures of Eating" which is collected in What Are People For? (1990). It's funny that there's no mention of that in the magazine. Anyway, it's always good to see WB printed widely.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Actually reading the two essays shows that about three paragraphs have been excised from the original "The Pleasures of Eating" in order to produce "New Year's Revolutions": a section on "the current version of the 'dream home'" (which hasn't aged so well) and, sadly, the final paragraph of "Pleasures" which helps us to consider eating as a religious experience.

Sustainable USDA picks?

TH - Dubuque - Agriculture Article.

The old guard really guards only the past

So far, say the foodies who backed Barack, the new prez is buckling to the status quo by appointing ag biz-types at the USDA rather than fighting for a new team with new ideas.

Maybe, but the old guard -- big farm groups, ag biz -- is scared by the change Obama represents and here's why: The old guard is using its clout in Congress and the press to hammer foodie efforts to influence USDA sub-Cabinet appointments that are seen as threats to Big Ag's stranglehold on the USDA.

For example, an Iowa-based sustainable agriculture and rural advocacy group, Food Democracy Now!, spent the Obama transition period floating a Web-based petition that endorsed a list of "sustainable" USDA appointees.

The list included more mild than wild folks: Gus Schumacher, Massachusetts' former ag director and USDA undersecretary; Mark Ritchie, Minnesota's secretary of state and former head of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the widely respected Center for Rural Affairs; and Sarah Vogel, a North Dakota attorney and that state's former commissioner of agriculture.

Within weeks, the petition garnered nearly 75,000 signatures. Signers included celebrity chefs like Alice Waters, acclaimed writers like Wendell Berry and ag economists such as Missouri's John Ikerd.

Gale includes WB in new volume

Gale - Press Room.

Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy

Addressing the needs of upper high school students, undergraduates, researchers, teachers and professors, as well as general readers, the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy examines the philosophical and ethical principles underlying contemporary and historical environmental issues, policies and debates.

More than 300 peer-reviewed and cross-referenced articles cover concepts, institutions, events and people. The Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy features topics including global warming, animal rights, environmental movements, alternative energy, green chemistry and eco-sabotage and provides biographical profiles of such luminaries as John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry and Edward O. Wilson among many others. Features of the resource include photographs and illustrations, thematic outlines, annotated bibliographies and a comprehensive index.

The Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy joins the suite of other Macmillan applied ethics title: Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 3rd Edition, and the Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics.