Value and Price and Respect

From the essay "A Nation Rich in Natural Resources" collected in Home Economics comes this meditation by Wendell Berry upon the notion of value.

We must also notice that as the natural energy approaches human usability, it passes through a declension of forms less and less complex. A potato is less complex than the topsoil, a steak than a steer, a cooked meal than a farm. If, in the human economy, a squash on the table is worth more than a squash in the field, and a squash in the field is worth more than a bushel of soil, that does not mean that food is more valuable than soil; it means simply that we do not know how to value the soil. In its complexity and its potential longevity, the soil exceeds our comprehension; we do not know how to place a just market value on it, and we will never learn how. Its value is inestimable; we must value it, beyond whatever price we put on it, by respecting it.

One could ask whether or not we truly comprehend the simplicity of the potato. If the answer is no, we may not be able to truly value the potato.

And so for day 521