Savoring the Seasons: Taking action

November 13, 2013. By Mary McClintock.

Recently, I came across this powerful quote by Wendell Berry: “Eating is an agricultural act.”

Those words are from his essay “The Pleasures of Eating” published in his book “What are People For.” He wrote the essay in response to questions about what “city people” can do to help reverse the decline of American farming and rural life.

I read the essay, moved by what Berry said about the state of “industrial” agriculture and how we have become “industrial consumers.” I thought about large farms near where I worked in California’s orange groves and that I see in my annual drive to Michigan. Berry summed up my concerns about the food system in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

Then I saw the publication date of that essay. Berry wrote those words in 1989.


Almost 25 years later, Berry’s words sound like what the “local food movement” is saying today, what I write every week in this column. Here are some of the actions he advises us to take: Participate in food production, prepare your own food, buy food that is produced closest to your home, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist, learn as much as you can of the economy and technology of industrial food production, and learn what is involved in the best farming and gardening.

I encourage you to read Berry’s whole essay, available at: Read more about Wendell Berry at and in his books available at local libraries and the World Eye Bookshop.

Read Berry’s writing, and take action.

Take action to help influence proposed food safety rules that threaten local farms. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed new rules were created to address food safety issues in the industrial food system. Of course, food safety is important, but one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to safety rules for farms. These rules would hurt small, local farms by increasing their costs to comply with the rules.

CISA’s website has information about how to tell the FDA you want small-farm-friendly regulations. Take action at CISA’s website.

Don’t wait! The deadline for feedback to the FDA is this Friday, Nov. 15.

A tasty way to support local farmers is to continue shopping at local farmers markets and farm stores, even as days get colder. Greenfield’s farmers market is open on Court Square next to the Greenfield Town Common from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Nov. 16 and 23.

Greenfield Winter Farmers Market, Greenfield High School, 1 Lenox Ave., Saturdays, Dec. 14, Jan. 4, Feb. 1 and March 1, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fresh vegetables, squash and root veggies, apples, cheese, canned preserves and pickles, meat, eggs, bread, baked goods, and more. For information, contact: Market Manager Katia Williford.

This week we’re eating. . .

Winter Lunchbox Soups

By Emily Oppegard, Easthampton

I tend to put everything in everything I cook so things end up tasting alike. This was an exercise in making four distinct flavors so I don’t feel like I always eat the same thing. I make two flavors one weekend and two the next, freezing individual servings for almost a week of work lunches without repeat.

Start with two or three butternut squash halved; bake cut-side down, cool, puree with vegetable or chicken broth. Saute onions and garlic.


1. Saute some chopped apples with fresh and powdered ginger. Puree some of the onions and garlic with the apples. Add to pureed squash.

2. Saute chopped red bell pepper and kale with cooked black beans. Season with cumin and chili powder. Add to pureed squash with onions and garlic.

3. Add onions, garlic, frozen peas, corn, and rosemary to squash puree.

4. Saute mushrooms in butter, season with curry powder. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms to squash puree.