Wendell Berry interview.

The always formidable Wendell Berry – most certainly not an avid Condalmo reader – is interviewed in the new issue of The Sun.  I let my subscription lapse, as one will do when money is tight, but they’ve begun putting up some of each issue here on the internets.  Excerpt:

Fearnside: In your recent talk to the Sierra Club, you mentioned “foodsheds.” Can you explain this concept in more detail?

Berry: Cities attract food products from the
countryside the same way that a major stream attracts water from the
smaller streams in a watershed. A foodshed would be the tributary
landscape around a city from which the city’s food would come. It goes
back to the ancient concept of the city as a gathering point for the
products of its landscape. And since we haven’t had cheap petroleum for
a while — and we’re probably not going to have it ever again — we need
to think this way once more. Sooner or later, we’re not going to be
able to afford to haul food in from everywhere in the world.

Another reason to think in terms of local food economies is that an
extended food system concentrates food at collecting points and
transportation arteries, so it’s extremely vulnerable to blockades or
acts of terrorism. A third reason — and this may be the most important
reason of all — is that if you’re going to have sustainable
agriculture, it has to be adapted locally. Local adaptation means that
you observe in the economic landscape the same processes that you find
in healthy natural landscapes: You must have diversity. You must have
both plants and animals. You must waste nothing. You must obey the law
of return — that is, you must return to the ground all the nutrients
that you take from it. You must protect the soil from erosion at all
times. You must make maximum use of sunlight. In those circumstances,
you may leave the crops and animals pretty much to fend for themselves
against diseases. The farm will have some disease, but it won’t have
epidemics. If you look at a healthy forest, for instance, you see some
prematurely dead trees, but not massive numbers of them.


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