Common Dreams has reposted an editorial in which New York Times food writer Mark Bittman ponders the significance of Wendell Berry. My admiration for Berry is clear in my Sunday blog posts, which were inspired by and often feature words and ideas from his Sabbath poems. I’m also a big fan of Bittman, a great food writer who turned his attention a few years ago to considering the relation of how we eat and its impact on our health and the environment.
Bittman seems in awe of Berry’s “patience,” his way of understanding the world as something bound in nature and its cycles. He contrasts his city life with the rural community where Berry’s family has lived for 200 years: “He knows the land the way I know the stops on the Lexington Avenue subway line and, predictably, I begin feeling like the fairly techie city person I am and wonder if it could have been otherwise.” Even so, Bittmann cites Berryas someone who changed his thinking, an appreciation that is clear at several points in the editorial.
Berry could live in a university town and enjoy the comfortable life of the academic. Instead, he has chosen to stay where he was raised. While his home may be isolated, Berry continues to engage his fellow Americans about how we eat and, more importantly, how we live. His career is a gift to us and to the generations that will follow. May we heed his wise, patient voice.