Cover may differ from image shown

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

edited by Norman Wirzba

Out of Printcloth$30.00s 978-0-8131-2285-4
296 pages  Pubdate: 10/10/2003  6 x 9  Illus

With a Foreword by Barbara Kingsolver. A compelling worldview with advocates from around the globe, agrarianism challenges the shortcomings of our industrial and technological economy. Not simply focused on farming, the agrarian outlook encourages us to develop practices and policies that promote the health of land, community, and culture. Agrarianism reminds us that no matter how urban we become, our survival will always be inextricably linked to the precious resources of soil, water, and air. Combining fresh insights from the disciplines of education, law, history, urban and regional planning, economics, philosophy, religion, ecology, politics, and agriculture, these original essays develop a sophisticated critique of our culture’s current relationship to the land, while offering practical alternatives. Leading agrarians, including Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Wes Jackson, Gene Logsdon, Brian Donahue, Eric Freyfogle, and David Orr, explain how our goals should be redirected toward genuinely sustainable communities. These writers call us to an honest accounting and correction of our often destructive ways. They suggest how our society can take practical steps toward integrating soils, watersheds, forests, wildlife, urban areas, and human populations into one great system—a responsible flourishing of our world and culture.

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.

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