The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land

Overview


Agrarian philosophy, a compelling worldview with advocates around the globe, encourages us to develop practices and policies that promote the sustainable health of the land, community, and culture. In this remarkable anthology are fifteen essays from Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Wes Jackson, Gene Logsdon, Brian Donahue, Eric Freyfogle, David Orr, and others. The Essential Agrarian Reader calls us to celebrate the gifts of the earth, through honest work and respect for the ...
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Overview


Agrarian philosophy, a compelling worldview with advocates around the globe, encourages us to develop practices and policies that promote the sustainable health of the land, community, and culture. In this remarkable anthology are fifteen essays from Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Wes Jackson, Gene Logsdon, Brian Donahue, Eric Freyfogle, David Orr, and others. The Essential Agrarian Reader calls us to celebrate the gifts of the earth, through honest work and respect for the land.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Agrarianism, a set of values rooted in place and soil, is diametrically opposed to global industrialization and devastation. Instead, it strives to appreciate, understand, and care for the earth and its inhabitants. It also realizes that a sound food economy is based on sound farming practices. In this collection of eminently quotable and passionately argued essays, farmers, philosophers, scientists, and environmentalists look at the ways in which industrial agriculture, unchecked consumerism, and the squandering of natural resources have caused great harm. "I cannot imagine," writes David Orr, "a system built on exploitation, consumption, growth, and uniformity-however cleverly managed-as anything other than a prelude to ruin." Particularly inspiring in its celebration of existence is "Placing the Soul: An Agrarian Philosophy," by editor Wirzba (philosophy, Georgetown Coll.). Several of the pieces were originally speeches delivered at a 2002 conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the publication of Wendell Berry's groundbreaking The Unsettling of America. Berry, of course, is represented here. While similar to the equally informative and thought-provoking The New Agrarianism, edited by Eric Freyfogle, The Essential Agrarian Reader is preferred for libraries with limited budgets as the contributors cover a wider range of topics, are leaders in their fields, and have lucid, expressive writing styles. Highly recommended.-Ilse Heidmann, Washington State Lib., Olympia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"The contributions of these authors and the fields represented provide a preliminary indication of the scope of the book and the issues addressed.... Not just a 'good read;' it is an essential read." — (Blacksburg, VA) New River Free Press

"Before I had read this book, I would have hesitated to suggest that one's relationship to the land, to consumption and food, is a religious matter. But it's true; the decision to attend to the health of one's habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice. It's also a political choice, a scientific one, a personal and a convivial one. It's not a choice between living in the country or the town; it is about understanding that every one of us, at the level of our cells and respiration, lives in the country, and is thus obliged to be mindful of the distance between ourselves and our sustenance." — Barbara Kingsolver, from the Foreword

"First-rate essays written by the agrarian A-team, folks who have done some darn deep thinking, good work, and right living. They set forth the limits and dangers of our current mindset, and call us — wherever we are — t a life that acknowledges and honors the land and the people who provide for it." — Bill Vitek, co-editor, Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place

"Nothing less than a call for cultural revolution and nothing more than the honest search for a good life. It is both critical and practical, based on careful work and discipline rather than lobbying and the rattling of talking heads.... It will change the way you eat and shop and live." — Books and Culture

"An unhysterical but thorough indictment not just of American agriculture but of the larger American culture of which it is a diminished part." — Christian Century

"The writers have many suggestions for a more positive future. They say that this requires an understanding that the requirements for a safe and secure food supply have not changed in the last one hundred years: agriculture requires the preservation of land, the fertility and health of the soil, and people who know how to use the land well." — Gallon Environmental Letter

"For those wanting to understand the agrarian ethic as an utterly sensible credo for contemporary culture, The Essential Agrarian Reader offers an ideal starting point." — Gastronomica

"Several visionaries, architects, and day laborers of agrarianism come together to lay before us, if not an actual blueprint, then at least some exciting, preliminary sketches for a world informed by agrarian values." — Isle

"Collects 15 essays from some of the most notable agrarian thinkers of today." — Kentucky Monthly

"This volume can help us understand that sustainable, viable human and biological communities are possible without the destruction of what we purport to revere." — Lexington Herald-Leader

"In this collection of eminently quotable and passionately argued essays, farmers, philosophers, scientists, and environmentalists look at the ways in which industrial agriculture, unchecked consumerism, and the squandering of natural resources have caused great harm." — Library Journal (starred review)

"Here is a primer on real 'homeland security' — on preserving the sources of clean air, pure water, nutritious food, caring communities, and good work. In essays charged with logic and passion, these new agrarians show what we must do to assure our own well-being and that of future generations. If you wish to understand what's wrong with our present way of life, and if you wish to envision a more decent, sustainable, and joyful alternative, then read on." — Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope

"Each [essay] contains its own valuable lesson — and more importantly, each one offers hope." — Snail

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593760434
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 8/9/2004
  • Pages: 276
  • Sales rank: 821,893
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Wirzba, associate professor and chair of the philosophy department at Georgetown College, is the author of The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age and editor of The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction: Why Agrarianism Matters - Even to Urbanites 1
Pt. 1 Agrarian Principles and Priorities
1 The Agrarian Standard 23
2 The Resettling of America 34
3 The Mind-Set of Agrarianism ... New and Old 52
4 Sustainable Economic Development: Definitions, Principles, Policies 62
5 Placing the Soul: An Agrarian Philosophical Principle 80
Pt. 2 Assessing Our Situation
6 The Current State of Agriculture: Does It Have a Future? 101
7 Globalization and the War against Farmers and the Land 121
8 The Agrarian Mind: Mere Nostalgia or a Practical Necessity? 140
9 All Flesh Is Grass: A Hopeful Look at the Future of Agrarianism 154
10 The Uses of Prophecy 171
Pt. 3 Putting Agrarianism to Work
11 Country and City: The Common Vision of Agrarians and New Urbanists 191
12 New Agrarians: Local Innovators 212
13 The Legal and Legislative Front: The Fight Against Industrial Agriculture 222
14 Private Property Rights in Land: An Agrarian View 237
15 Going to Work 259
Further Reading 267
Contributors 271
Index 273
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