Starting Year Six, With Ongoing Thanks to Wendell Berry

Eating is an agricultural act,

Eating is an agricultural act,

Catch my breath, grin, snap: There's Wendell Berry -- Kentucky's public conscience, our Wendell Berry, farmer and approachable prophet -- translated in italiano and posted where no one can miss him, over a door at Eataly, Mario Batali's packed Italian food emporium at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, New York, New York.

Wendell didn't sanction that running-on last sentence, nor does he sanction Savoring Kentucky. As this blog enters its sixth year, though, I delight in appreciating Wendell Berry. It pleases me to share that appreciation with the wide world, and I thank him again for speaking from his mind and heart on September 12, 2001, a story I tell briefly here.

Wendell's words on that black day pulled the fluttering needle of my interests in our Commonwealth firmly toward a North Star that I literally had never before seen or imagined: food self-sufficiency for all. Freedom from fear, freedom from hunger, and freedom from plain old awful food, all wrapped up in the notion that we Kentuckians have abundant means to feed ourselves, if we apply our brains and bodies to the challenge.

That achievable, distant, elusive, visionary goal of food self-sufficiency has organized a good bit of my non-work time ever since. I have spent many happy hours at a (decidedly un-Wendellian) computer screen, hoping that writing, like eating, could be an agricultural act.

Starting on September 13, 2001, I read a lot about food, agriculture, cooks, food systems. I began asking more questions and paying better attention to the wise growers at the Lexington Farmers Market.

In the next years, some of the people I loved best in the world died, dear ones whose ardent passion for Kentucky's soil and its productivity stayed with me as I grieved their absence. Then came an opportunity to write about Kentucky food for Nougat, a wonderful, short-lived local monthly magazine. Out of the excess of story, because it seemed a shame to waste all the words and hopes and ideas that would not fit in my monthly 700-word magazine column, I spent some quality time at Common Grounds Coffee Shop, and learned how to set up a WordPress blog.

On March 18, 2006, I published my first post, a one-sentence fortune from a Chinese restaurant fortune cookie:

"He who knows he has enough is rich."

I'm not sure what it had to do with Savoring Kentucky, but those words came out of food, and that's a fair description of the rest of this blog. In 2010, 116 "Savory Kentucky Bite" posts in 116 days came out of Kentucky's food, my home-grown contribution to the Kentucky pride that surrounded our hosting the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Today's post is number 419. This blog features more than 100 fixed pages as well, many of them recipes. The numbers amuse me, since I originally intended to devote my blogging energies to Kentucky's emerging vineyards and wineries, and thought I would practice a little bit on food, something I knew much better.

The vineyards, wineries, and distilleries are yet to come. So far, I haven't come close to exhausting my interest in stories about Kentucky's farms and farmers, markets, and the chefs and restaurants that champion Kentucky's wonderful foods and drinks.

On to post 420, which will be quite practical--and much shorter--I promise. Your suggestions for topics and themes are always entirely welcome.

You don't get Savoring Kentucky posts by email, but you would like to, free? Here is our 110 percent no spam guarantee and email subscription information.