You Gotta Love Joel Salatin

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Know your farmer! Yes! I love that message. Food is so intimate as it is what you nourish yourself and family with. I go to great lengths to buy my food local and know farmer.

    I had an experience where a local farm was certified organic but the animals were not that well kept (we found dead and bloody chickens :( ). I also believed that the farmer lied to us about the animal care. Nevertheless we did not report her because there are several organic certifications she could get and we did not know which one she had.
    .-= Catherine @ Healthy Fit Mom

  2. says

    Kelsey — No kidding! Me too.

    Catherine — What a terrible experience. It just goes to show that what really counts is relationships with people. You’ve got to get to know them, their business, and get a sense for what’s really going on.

  3. says

    I loved that whole interview and I’ve seen it several times. One thing about knowing your farmer is that your farmer knows you. He’s going to care if his produce or meat makes you sick. He cares if you like what you buy because he knows that if you don’t, you won’t. He also knows that you probably know a lot of his other customers. He’s invested in your satisfaction in a way that no conglomerate will ever be. That’s the best food safety there is.
    .-= Bonnie

  4. Kitty says

    Wow! Is he married? I am, but I’ll divorce my husband and move to Joe’s farm…lol. Totally joking, but I love what he has to say. Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who *gets it* then I come here and feel rejuvenated. Today I nearly cried at the grocery store when the people behind me in line put their “groceries” on the conveyor. They had no food, really. It was all cheetoes, packaged chicken nuggets, and wonderbread.

  5. says

    That first sentence of Joel’s interview quoted above was absolutely PRICELESS. I feel like plastering that sentence onto the door of every single microwave in my office building!

    Thanks so much for posting this!!!

  6. says

    Lindsey — I know! It’s pure poetry, isn’t it?

    Kitty — What a sad, sad thing! I know the feeling. What makes it worse is talking to these mothers and discovering that they actually think they’re buying healthy foods for the kids. I can’t tell you how many people I know who actually feel like chicken nuggets & frozen pizzas are HEALTHY foods!

    Kelly — Thanks! Although in this case, it REALLY IS Joel doing all the preaching.

  7. nia says

    That man has some powerful words. I dont think anyone can put the movement into better words and he did it in a way that would force someone outside to think instead of be embarrased.

  8. says

    Keep on shouting because people are listening. I’ve got several friends who grew up not cooking who were inspired to learn by the fact that in our family we do cook and we eat meals as a family. Lead by example. It makes people believe it can really happen.

  9. says

    This is a great site/blog spot!
    Thanks for sharing Joels’ interview. I had a the privilege of going to his farm this summer and it was a highlight, not because of anything different than on my farm, but he’s an icon. we’ve been following his practices since 1999 and I live in Texas and he’s in Virginia!
    I’m a renegade that has found a new resting ground! This is one battle we cannot back down from, one meal at a time, we have to keep on getting the word out to others.
    I look forward to other visits with you and your readers!
    Chef Nancy
    farmin’ in Texas

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