|With Joel Salatin after his Earth Day talk at UNC Chapel Hill|
Joel was in town to address the UNC campus community and share his thoughts about the local food movement, the integrity of the planet and debunk some of the myths about sustainable farming. I got a copy of his latest book, The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer. As I listened to his ideas, it made me feel better about how "different" I sometimes feel with all my efforts to eat sustainably raised foods. If Joel Salatin is a Lunatic, then sign me up too! Cause I want to live in his world. This man who has brought soil back to his land instead of letting the soil erode decade after decade is someone who knows how to heal our world.
He provided an apologetics seminar of sorts offering some retorts to some of the common complaints about sustainable farming such as that you can't feed the world this way or that it is "elitist." With Joel's mile a minute delivery system there was no way to capture it all for you here (especially since my daughter insisted on crawling all over me during the talk and taking my note-taking pen hostage...) but he made some wonderful points throughout his address. He said that if the sustainable farming movement wants to make some traction against big agriculture, that we need to understand how they think and measure things. Joel talked about how the USDA, which he fondly calls the US Duh, measures themselves on how many things can be inspected per minute and similar metrics which by design are going to make it harder for smaller, local producers to compete. He also mentioned that right now our financial systems don't have a way to measure some of the most important parts of a project using the example of what happens when going to a banker to apply for a loan. There's nothing in the documents that asks will all these improvements make the earthworms happy, or communities happy, or the cows happy.... And while this may seem silly, he's dead serious in trying to get us all to understand that if the smallest among us are being harmed in our quest for progress, we are on the wrong track. I could listen to this man pontificate all day long.
He talked about the efficiencies of having every kitchen connected to a chicken coop so that kitchen waste could be used by the chickens and how the kitchens would be rewarded with healthier eggs. He even gave an example of a community in Belgium that offered free chickens to any citizens that wanted them and all the positives that came out of that experiment. He said we'll know we've made REAL PROGRESS when the soccer moms are all gathered together and brag about their progeny's desire to be a FARMER with the same pride as they would in talking about their children's interest in being a doctor or a lawyer. He said we need to rediscover the culinary domestic arts as well.
So I feel better about the hours I am spending trying to learn how to make things that perhaps my great, great, great grandmothers did everyday. And if people think I'm a wacko because I don't want my kids eating a steady diet of high fructose corn syrup, beef laced with ammonia cleaning solutions and processed food that is stripped of nutritional value, well, then at least I am in good company if Joel is on my team. I'm so glad that you are in this world, Joel Salatin, to inspire each of us to become the fullness of what we are, be it cow, chicken, earthworm or HUMAN. It was an honor to be in the same room with you yesterday!
Also posted at Simple-Lives Thursday