Joel Salatin on a forgiving food system

rich/ April 10, 2009/ Food, World/

Joel Salatin is gearing up for the media push for the movie Food, Inc, which I read somewhere is going to be a combination of Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. That should be fun

This is just a quick Chelsea Green clip of him speaking recently

I’m a little skeptical of Joel’s energy analysis…tripling of energy prices would have rippling effects on Polyface farm, from the tons of conventional corn that they import for their chickens to the impact the resulting economic downturn would have on their paying customers.

Further, I prefer the word resilient to forgiving, but that’s semantics, and my own ecological terminology bias. All that said, Joel is always an entertaining speaker, and worth a watch.


  1. I’m so with you on the grain /corn price consideration that is not considered by joel I don’t believe his math either – but there’s those who inspire and those that perspire : ) joel first inspired us to perspire so here we are paying hi prices for grain but loving the life non the less – thanks for doing what you do too!! cheers! Clare

  2. Rich, I think Joel can spout these figures because he lives in a grain growing region, unlike here. I was shocked at the corn and soy fields near Polyface because I assumed “everyone” else has similar growing conditions to mine. Joel is guilty of the same assumptions. That is why the pastured poultry model doesn’t work everywhere. I still think Joel’s greater contribution is that he gives hope to people wanting to farm and/or steward their land. Whether his model works or not on a particular farm is up to the land and people who farm there.

    Even if it is politically correct right now to be raising poultry, I am glad I am not participating in that anymore, and gee I guess I should go out and pet my belching milk cow and give her a big hug for providing us with so much AND beautifying my landscape at the same time.

    I saw the trailer for Food Inc., and it looks like it will be good.

  3. Joel is absolutely inspirational…it’s the nature of farming to suit the model to the local conditions. I only wish that he made that clear when we were inspired to do poultry on our farm! No worries, though…we are now using our local resources to make our farm work, which is the best that anyone can do.

  4. Just to echo earlier thoughts — Salatin has certainly been inspiring AND I agree that his ‘how to’ books leave out a lot of place-based specifics (another example: rain in summer!!!!!!). While his model has apparently worked well in his location, it certainly isn’t a formula that works everywhere. But you’d hardly know that from his books. Maybe he doesn’t even realize that? I know sometimes people can get so deep into their own situation that they literally DON’T realize how different other people’s situations can be.

    We saw Eliot Coleman speak two winters ago in Bellingham, and that’s very much how it felt. Maine winters are sooooooooo different from Bellingham winters, but he seemed to think that his model would work ‘perfectly’ there too. Seriously. Even when questioned about things from very experienced local farmers, he dismissed their perspective. It really pissed me off, because these farmers were experts on their place and its quirks.

    Just from our experience having farmed veggies in three different Northwest locations, I wouldn’t feel like I could replicate actions exactly the same from site to site without adapting.

    I wish there were more inspirational books that accurately conveyed that ‘the nature of farming is to suit the model to the local conditions.’ Unfortunately, that’s not a very $exy book topic. People want formula$, don’t they? : )

    Rich, do you remember when we were at that small landowners class, and you, Casey and I were all agreed: SERIOUSLY — check the soil survey for your land!!!! And then people in the class kind of scoffed, and were like: well, those are just “guidelines,” you can really grow anything. We hear what we want to hear.

    Blah blah blah. Just ranting. We were just talking about this the other day, so it’s fresh in my mind.

  5. Like your stuff – as a fellow chicken addict will be back!

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