Joel Salatin has a way with words. In a recent interview posted at TreeHugger.com, Salatin shares his critique of the modern food system, his opinion of organic certification (it may surprise you!), his opinion on Big Organic being in giant food stores like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, why he thinks eating locally and in season is important, why he participated in Food, Inc., and more.
To be honest, it’s the most in-depth Salatin interview I’ve ever read. And I believe you guys will eat it up. Eat. It. Up.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of the interview’s gems with you.
When asked why his vision for the future of food made him “forward thinking”, Joel Salatin said:
Just imagine if people began discovering their kitchens again, and if the average household instead of popping irradiated amalgamated prostituted reconstituted, adulterated, modified and artificially flavored extruded bar coded un-pronounceable things into the microwave, actually prepared whole foods for all-down-together family meals. It’s not normal for a culture to eat things it can’t pronounce and that it can’t make in its own kitchens. Ever try making corn syrup. Or red dye 29? If we quit feeding cows corn, and practiced mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization, 70 percent of the world’s arable land could return to perennial prairie polycultures building soil and sequestering carbon. That would completely destroy the power of the grain cartel, the multi-national corporations, petroleum usage. If every surburban–or urban, for that matter–lot and mega-yard became an edible landscape, supermarkets would be gone. I don’t have a vendetta against these institutions, but I do think that the world we currently live in is a veritable blip, an abnormality cyst, in the continuum of human history. Chances are in the distant if not near future our food system will be more decentralized, localized, and in-home prepared than it is right now. And that looks a lot more like the food system of 1800 than the one of 2009.
When I read that, I felt like standing on top of my chair and shouting “Preach it, brother!”
In his four-fold answer to the question about what’s wrong with our industrialized food system, I felt equally as inspired. But in particular, I appreciated how he grouped the idea of nutrition together with food safety:
Which opens up the next big problem: safe food. And this runs the gamut from nutrition to outright danger. The food industry actually believes that feeding your children Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew is safe, but drinking raw milk and eating compost-grown tomatoes is dangerous.
He doesn’t mince words. When asked if his meat is certified organic, Salatin said:
We don’t participate in any government program. We are beyond organic. Organic is a non-comprehensive term–it does not define many variables…. Cornucopia project and other watchdog groups have had to routinely sue the USDA to get enforcement of the National Organic Standards. I don’t trust the government as far as I can throw a bull by the tail–and that’s not very far. Why in the world would people who spent a lifetime castigating the USDA for its unabashed promotion of industrial food give it the authority to regulate honest food? This is called intellectual schizophrenia.
Intellectual schizophrenia! I guess we already know his opinion of the food safety bills passed in the House and making their way through the Senate.
When asked how we can trust what’s in our food, Salatin summed up my own thoughts quite nicely:
Know your farmer. Turn off — or get rid of — the TV, and spend the next year turning all your recreational, educational, info-tainment time and energy into a treasure hunt in your locality to find integrity food. It exists everywhere. Put down the can of soda, get up off the sofa, and go put as much effort into finding trustworthy food as you would into finding a good church fellowship or music concert. The shorter the chain of custody between field and fork, the easier it is to establish trustworthiness. Buy only from entities you trust…. Transparency is the only way to ensure trust.
Like I said, it’s a great, great interview. Go read the whole thing.