In “The Pleasures of Eating” Wendell Berry wants the reader to recognize that eating is a cultural act. He believes we are eaters not consumers and that we should have more knowledge about the food we eat. Berry wants the reader to questions where the food is coming from, what condition is it produced in and what chemicals may it contains. He has found that the food industries blind us to what we are consuming and the effect it has on us.
At last Berry believes that we must eat responsibly to live free.
Berry first begins with eating as an agricultural act. We think of food as an agricultural product rather than think of ourselves participating in the agriculture. Berry sees us believing we are just consumers, as we buy what we want within our limits and what “they,” the industrial food companies, want us to buy. With this we ignore the most certain critical questions, “how fresh is it? How pure or clean is it? How pure or clean is it? How free of dangerous chemicals? How far was it transported? And what did transportation add to the cost? ” (Berry 231).
Berry recognizes that we are naive to believe that the food we buy is produced on an agriculture farm when we have no knowledge of what kind of far or where it is located. We only know of one process, when it appears on the grocery shelf. Industrial food companies blind us with product commercialization. “This sort of consumption may be said to be on of the chief goals of industrial production” (Berry 231).
Industrial food companies have persuaded us to prefer the consumption of food that is already prepared. They have eliminated the agricultural work giving you the connivence of growing, delivering and cooking it all you for.
If industrial food companies could find a way to gain profit from pre-chewing your food and feeding it to you they would do it. “When food in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous. ” What Berry means by this is we give up knowing the history of our food and hand over all control and freedom. Like any politics it involves our freedom. By giving someone else the control we, “neglect to understand that we cannot be free unless our food is free” (Berry 232).
Our food wars a much make up as actors (Berry 232). Berry expresses that the food industry wants little to do with our health but more to do with volume and price of their product. As scales increase, diversity declines when this happens so does health. From there the dependence on drugs and chemicals becomes necessary. Food advertising leads up to believe that what we eat is good, tasty, healthy and guaranteed to give us a long life (Berry 233). Industrialism is a trap. Berry believes how to escape this trap is to recognize the food problem as a whole and how eating is inescapable.
In order to participate in the agricultural act you must; participate in food productions, prepare your own food, learn your foods origin, cut the middle man when you buy, learn about industrial food companies, good farming and gardening and learn from observation and experience. Berry takes pleasure in eating meat from non-suffering non-farm raised animals. As well as, fruits and vegetables that lived a plentiful life. He believes eating should be an extensive pleasure and the more we participate in agriculture and gain knowledge the more we live, “free from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we can not comprehend” (233).
Although Berry made very good points on the importance of a healthy lifestyle he uses excessive amounts of emphasis on knowing what you are eating all the time. I believe if you set limits on the amount of industrialized food you consume, you will still be able to live a healthy and fulfilling life. “The consumer, that is to say, must be kept from discovering that, in the food industry-as in any other industry-the overriding concerns are not quality and health, but volume and price” (Berry 233) This direct quote was very strong and caught my attention.
This made me realize that industrial food companies can be compared to any kind of business as their chief objective is increasing profit. There are, however, certain ways to get around the conventional food industry. It is possible to avoid the trap because after all “the trap is the ideal of industrialism” (Berry 233). Even though I agree with this certain point, I feel as if there might be a more effective approach that Berry could have taken when describing this so called “trap. ” The way that Berry expresses his views makes it seem as if food industries are out to get you.
The description of their goal to make consumers fall into a trap is on the extreme side. Wendell Berry seems to be very into the details of farming and how our meals are processed, but as someone who has been given a very fortunate life style, it is hard for me to relate. When I read I find myself to be having contradictory thoughts as this whole time I have disagreed with most things Berry said; with that being said, the main point of his article is that people take for granted their meals and have no idea the process farmers go through to make our lives the happy ones we live.
So yes, Wendell Berry is right in saying people, like myself, should know more about the process and food we absorb each and every day. He does a great job of bringing in his arguments with the tone of his article and repetition of ideas. When he makes a point, he wants to “hammer it home. ” Therefore, I have to applause him for his writing as he is a convincing writer with a strong knowledge base. His position on the food industry and the roles that consumers need to play in order to eat pleasurably is grand but some of his views were too extreme to persuade me.
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