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The Sun Magazine

The Natural World

Agriculture

The Sun Interview

Digging In

Wendell Berry On Small Farms, Local Wisdom, And The Folly Of Greed

The human definition of the natural world is always going to be too small, because the world’s more diverse and complex than we can ever know. We’re not going to comprehend it; it comprehends us. The question is whether we can use it with respect. Some people in the past who knew very little biology were able to use the land without destroying it. We, who know a great deal of biology, are destroying our land in order to use it.

Fiction

The Apology

When I was a boy, I lived in the country about fifty miles outside of San Antonio, Texas. Our house was a trailer my father had set up on large cedar posts, three feet in the air. He covered the space below with aluminum siding and added a front porch to give the trailer a more houselike appearance. We had an above-ground pool, too.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Field Notes

When they set out to document the lives of Mexican migrant workers in Hartville, author David Hassler and photographer Gary Harwood expected to find examples of injustice, deprivation, and misery. Instead they found a functioning seasonal community, rich in culture, to which entire families return each year. The work is hard and dirty, and the workers struggle to support themselves and their dependents.

The Sun Interview

Dream A Little Dream

Bill McKibben On Reforming Our Supersized Society

The real struggle is to get past the notion of growth as our reason for being, which has dominated our culture since World War II. It’s the organizing principle for government policy and most other institutions in our society, including higher education. This is not a tenable model anymore. When you consider global warming, peak oil, and the diverging fortunes of rich and poor nations, it gets harder and harder to maintain this fervent, Alan Greenspan belief that if we continue to increase the size of the system, all will be well.

The Sun Interview

Lost In The Supermarket

Michael Pollan On How The Food Industry Has Changed The Way We Eat

Families used to control what their members ate and pass along learned wisdom in the form of a food culture. Now that’s gone. Most people don’t eat as families. We eat individually, going one-on-one with the food supply, which is how the food industry likes it.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Seventy-Two Labors

I knew things were getting bad when I started avoiding the grocery store. Not that there was anything unusual about the store where I shopped. It was a typical American grocery, crisply chilled and brightly lit, dairy on the right, frozen foods on the left. The problem was the smell. Even though the butcher section was in the back, I could smell animal flesh when I came through the doors, the faint stench that leaked through the plastic wrap and rose above the ammonia smell of the floors. That odor seemed to penetrate the skins of the fruits and vegetables. Was that possible? I wondered why no one else seemed to notice.

Fiction

Tiny Bells

I am a dream. Once I was a man. Once I dreamed as you now dream, woke as you will awaken. I used to walk the world between earth and sky. Now I am a memory. If you awake to memories of a life you never lived, it is because you have let me enter your dreams.

The Sun Interview

Biting The Hand That Feeds: How Globalization Cripples Small Farms

An Interview With Vandana Shiva

This year farmers started to commit suicide in Uttar Pradesh, the richest agricultural state in India. Some of the most fertile soil in the world can be found there, and the region has never had agricultural problems. But the first rule of globalization says, “Don’t grow food for yourself; grow export crops.” So the farmers there all grew potatoes. And then potato prices collapsed. The potato-chip makers have walked off with super profits, and the farmers have been left with huge debts.

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