“The home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity.”
“Human self-actualization, human self-affirmation, I think is actually encouraged and stimulated when we viscerally participate in the physical elements of life.”
“A culture that just uses a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures in the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling type mentalities.”
“We’re the first culture that views children as liabilities instead of assets. All the cultures in history view children as a blessing. Today we talk about the cost of raising a child. This is the first generation which the average child has not had domestic chores. Kids used to grow up weeding the garden, picking beans, helping can applesauce, helping to cook. Today we call that child abuse.”
“All negatives are symptomatic of our management. So weeds, sickness, disease, viruses – that’s not the problem itself. That is a symptom of something that’s wrong in the protocol. In other words, when a cow gets sick on our farm, we don’t assume – well goodness I just didn’t use the right drug. We assume what did we do that broke down the immunological terrain of that cow that allowed her to get sick? We think you’ll learn a lot more assuming it’s my fault than there’s no fault at all – it just happened.”
“Several years ago we did an economic analysis on our farm – the average farm in America it takes $4 worth of depreciable infrastructure – I’m not even talking about land here – I’m just talking about buildings and equipment – $4 worth of buildings and equipment to generate $1 in annual gross sales. That’s the average in America. On our farm – you ready for this? It’s $0.50 to $1. It’s 800% difference. Folks – there’s nothing to buy because our equity is in management, customers, and information, see? And you don’t have to borrow that from a bank. And it’s portable. And you can take it from one farm to the other. Suddenly you can divorce the farm from the land, and you can move the farm around wherever you want to with this low capital, portable, infrastructure, easy to get in, easy to get out.”
“Some of our most exciting work now is germinating new young farmers. So here’s one of our apprentices Nathan who wanted to start a herd share raw milk dairy. And he said I don’t have any land. I don’t have any money. Can I take one of your rental farms – because we rent several pieces of property – and move your big herd of cows and you trade me that work I do for you – trade me a little corner here and I’ll start a little herd share dairy? So here you go. He’s up and running. He did that two years. Here’s his milking parlor. His sematic cell count – I mean the inspectors have never seen sematic cell counts as low as his. But this is illegal! It’s considered unsanitary because it’s not bathed in chlorine and fumigants and chemicals. We’ve confused sterile with safe. That’s why it’s safe to feed your kids Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew, but raw milk is a hazardous substance. At least you can get it in California. We can’t even get it in Virginia.”
“Ultimately, communities have to figure out how to feed themselves. It was interesting, I was at Terra Madre in Turin, Italy a few years ago and when I wasn’t speaking, I made it a point to visit every single African delegation. If you’re not familiar with this, this is the planet gathering of Slow Food organized by Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food. I went to all the African delegations I could. I spent most of my time apologizing for U.S. policy, distancing myself from our official orthodoxy, and I went to every African delegation and found every African delegation embarrassed about their government’s policy taking western dumping and every single one of them said, “If you Westerners would leave us alone, we’ve got the people, the capital, the knowledge, and the resources to feed ourselves, but when you come in with foreign aid and subsidized products and displace our indigenous foodscape systems, it disempowers our people, depresses our culture, and destroys our indigenous value.” I really believe that people can feed themselves. I don’t think we’re that stupid.”
“What’s the answer to the food desert? I would suggest a whosever will participatory mentality. What does he mean by that? What I mean is instead of a government agency or welfare or food bank creating additional dependency in those areas – most food deserts are in kinda run down parts of town where there’s a lot of empty vacant lots around. Well if some enterprising young person there – yeah the single mom of four – yeah I’m talking about her – wants to take a vacant lot, put a garden in it, have some chickens and rabbits in there, and start making quiche or pot pies or heavy stews in her tenement kitchen and selling them in the neighborhood, suddenly you have food security from the bottom up embedded in the social structure and in the landscape of the community. But if somebody dared to be so innovative, within five minutes, they’d have ten knocks on the door – first from the building inspector, then from the zoning administrator, and then the food safety administrator, and then the passive administrator, the label administrator, the OSHA administrator, the.. are you with me? When a person can’t put in a garden and use their own domestic kitchen to make some food to sell to the neighbor next door, that is an absolute cultural denial of a whosoever will participatory food culture.”
“What I’m pushing in the U.S. – and there’s a growing movement for this – is essentially a two-tier system that if you are scared of food and you are paranoid and you want a government approval on your food to make sure that all your milk is pasteurized and your green beans were grown in chemical fertilizer and your pork was properly vaccinated and drugged – if that’s what you want, fine. But – if you want as a consenting adult to voluntarily take charge of your food choices and buy the food of your choice from the source of your choice, you should be able to do that with the farmer of your choice without a bureaucrat getting in between you. And that would be a two-tier system. And if we offered that, you would see an explosion of local, artisanal, cottage-based integrity food production like you’ve never seen in the past. That would bring the price of local, high-quality food way down and it would flood the market with an antidote to all the things that people are afraid of. That’s the truth.
And so somehow if we’re going to live in an innovative, loving society, we have to preserve a place for neighbor to neighbor commerce free of a bureaucrat getting in between that. Otherwise, we don’t let innovation go. See – innovation starts embryonically with a very small prototype. If the government says, “You have to have a $10,000 piece of infrastructure – stainless steel refrigerator, whatever to start with one bucket of trial cheese or charcuterie… are you with me? You can’t start because the embryo is too big to be birthed. And so the food safety regulatory system which is prejudicial against small scale denies you and I the ability to access the creativeness and integrity of our neighbor food system – and that is tyranny.”
“We’re in a time when the only relationship people have with an animal is with their $1,000 a year golden retriever sitting on a $200 rug in an air-conditioned room reading their grand kids Bambi and Thumper. And we would have discussions about the ethics of eating meat. Folks – everything is eating and being eaten and if you don’t believe it go lie naked in your flower bed and see what gets eaten! The very notion that we can have life without sacrifice is a fundamental assault upon the most basic of ecological principles, which is life, death, decomposition, and regeneration. That’s the cycle of life! What does mean when we present to this notion of “Oh, we can actually have life without death.” What does that say to young people? How much more powerful is it when I speak to a group of kindergarteners or elementary students? Describe this principle and say “Now – if you really want to live, you’ll sacrifice for your family, your parents, and your school friends, and you’ll lay down your life for them because it’s in the sacrifice that every generation that occurs. Suddenly you have a meaningful, powerful metaphor for a meaningful life and legacy.
So it is that fundamental, visceral connection and appreciation for life that defines reasonable and common-sensical culture. And when our ecology, our economy, our sociology, and our theology all line up, suddenly we know we’re on to truth. But we live in very abnormal days. For the first time in human history, we’re able to take animals and stack them up in buildings by the hundreds of thousands and bring them cheap grain. See, grain has never been cheap before. It’s always been expensive throughout human history. When you had to grow grain – grain is an annual. That means it has to be planted. That means you have to prepare the ground. Well before cheap energy and mechanization, preparing the ground meant walking behind an ox or a mule or a yak or a water buffalo with a sharp stick all day back and forth very close to the rear end of a draft animal.”
Joel Salatin, Christian, libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist, lunatic farmer, author, and international speaker
I’ll bet most of you who have read this far now feel spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually full – and if so, that’s the point! Engaging in the means by which we fuel ourselves delves far beyond simply what we are eating. It leads us down a journey that explores questions related to spirituality, imagination, ethics, public health, parenting, economics, accounting, employee management (how to pay employees – salaries, wages, commissions), environmental issues (food waste, carbon sequestration), the optimal use of technology, international relations and foreign aid, food safety, and security.
So now that you know what the discussion on food sustainability on Saturday, March 16 will really be about, I hope you will consider attending, checking out the event description, and thinking about these additional questions:
What are the root causes of sickness and disease?
How should we view and treat heretics and what does the way in which we do so reveal about the nature of our culture?
What is the historical role of herbivores in nature and does it matter if we honor this role?
How can we integrate food production into our lives?
Is nature in harmony with the goals of humanity?
What effect has cheap grain had on our food system on our environment and diet?
How does viewing children as a liability instead of an asset affect our culture?