I was introduced to Joel Salatin through a blog I happened upon a few weeks ago. I knew nothing about him, but did some research and discovered that he is a self proclaimed Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist farmer, who is very well known throughout the organic food industry and the local food movement.
He was popularized in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have not yet read that book, though I intend to. But I just finished reading Joel Salatin's book Holy Cows & Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food.
Holy Cows and Hog Heaven has provoked me to think more about where our food comes from, how it is produced, and why we eat what we eat. I recently lampooned the idea of organic food, but thanks to this book, and other related reading, I'm coming around.
Salatin points out that much of the meat we eat is raised in abominable conditions. For example, cows are fed chicken manure and urea. But don't worry, the meat is irradiated! Mad Cow disease was the result of cows that had cannibalized other cows. Foot and Mouth disease is a threat only to animals that are fed commercial grain and feed. There are many other such examples in the book.
But in contrast, in the words of Salatin, "Farm friendly food asks the question, "Is the pig happy? On our farm and thousands like it, we try to provide a habitat to each plant and animal that allows it to fully express its physiological distinctiveness. When we respect nature or the Creator's design enough to reverence the plow on the end of a pig's nose, the graceful beak on the front of a chicken, the earthworms gamboling around in the soil underneath the cabbages, then we have a moral framework in which to contain our human cleverness."
Salatin writes in his conclusion, "Farm friendly food respects the wisdom of the Creator's DNA, honors the information in the mind of an earthworm, and appreciates the beauty of hogs in the rooting heaven. This food values bioregions, social structure, and wildness. It ponders the environmental and moral footprint of every decision, every activity, every marketing model."
The book is full of such wisdom. Salatin is clearly a man who has thought through Christian stewardship of creation. Have we given this adequate thought? I confess I have not, and I doubt many others have.
I encourage you to watch some videos about Polyface Farm.
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