Our Sustainable Table

Robert Clark, Editor North Point Press $29.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-86547-444-4
Under Clark's stewardship, 13 essays (one is actually a short story) attempt to link a decline in the quality of food with a historical deterioration of the quality of American farm life, while making it clear that ``food that tastes good and is good for you is not just a private indulgence but a force for sustaining families and communities,'' as Clark puts it. This proposition is attractive--we should be Jeffersonian farmers, not commodities traders--but also ambitious, and one might have wished for treatises with a somewhat firmer technical basis. The pieces assembled are really manifestos, pitched variously to hit an unknown, unformed reader. Wes Jackson ( Making Sustainable Agriculture Work ) reassures us that back-to-the-landers may still ``enjoy French wine, Russian novels, Greek philosophy, and Tuscan cooking.'' Alice Waters ( Chez Panisse Cooking ) recounts her famous Bay Area restaurant's painstaking pursuit of a supply chain of reliably good ingredients, yet neglects to discuss gastronomic values or even how costs are absorbed. Although poet and novelist Wendell Berry ( Remembering ), a familiar voice on the downfall of agriculture, is represented, the collection's moral and intellectual challenge does not quite rise to his usual standard. Clark is editor of the Journal of Gastronomy. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-86547-445-1
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