cover_bringing_it1“I LIVE IN A PART OF THE COUNTRY that at one time a good farmer could take some pleasure in looking at,” Wendell Berry intones in the opening essay of his new collection, Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009); a little farther down the page he continues, “Now the country is not well farmed, and driving through it has become a depressing experience.” This somber tone-setting essay, “Nature as Measure,” was written 20 years ago. Poet-essayist-novelist Berry—now in his mid-70s and who has farmed a hillside in his native Henry County, Kentucky, for more than 40 years—has had plenty to rail against when it comes to Big Ag, the politics of indifference and our alienating post-industrial age; but he also has had plenty to celebrate in clear-eyed observations of humankind interacting with nature, the value of true hard work (diametrically opposed to the digitally and plutocratically enabled “work” of accumulating phantom wealth) and the rewarding simplicity of sharing, of family, of community.

An out-of-touch cranky neo-luddite screeching for a return to prelapsarian times? Hardly. Berry’s vision is that of a hardy-yet-hoary realist, tinged by both optimism and pessimism (ah, the foibles of humanity!), attempting to show us a path out of our befoulment, a steaming, festering swamp we teeter face-first ever closer toward. And Berry’s prose? Gracefully worn and weathered to a burnished beauty, like a glacier-cast erratic, transfigurative in its straightforward simplicity. Read More »

Jimella1ABOUT HALFWAY UP THE LONG BEACH PENINSULA on the southwest Washington coast, in rather unprepossessing territory*, you’ll happen across Jimella’s Seafood Market & Cafe, gemlike yet equally low key, a keen practitioner of things local, fresh, organic, slow and sustainable. And let’s add REMARKABLY FLAVORABLE to the list (sure, why not, in all caps). You see, the owners, Jimella Lucas (she cooks) and Nanci Main (she bakes), own and ran the critically acclaimed Ark restaurant up the road in Nahcotta for more than 20 years. Worth the trip if you’re in this Lewis-and-Clark end-of-the-trail windswept-and-wild landscape? Absolutely. And it’s off the scale in green goodness! “Thank you for buying local,” a sign above the front door reads, “we’ll pay it forward.” Read More »