Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Joel Salatin speaking in Seattle

Joel Salatin, of Polyface farms fame spoke in Seattle tonight on two topics; feeding the people using expansive techniques, and the "ecstacy of being a lunatic farmer".  I couldn't make the first part. 

Mr.  Salatins operation is the one that my farming effort gets compared to most often.  He's a famous advocate for small farms to ignore the legal barriers and just go and do things related to farming.  He's one of the reasons that small poultry producers are allowed to slaughter their own birds here in Washington State, for instance. 

Personal note:  I think that here in Washington State,  the animal slaughter situation is entirely caused by regulation, and that the "mobile slaughter" units that we're building for $500k each is a huge waste of time and money.  Allow the regional meat cutting shops to become certified to slaughter and sell meat and help them stay in business.  Don't put a government subsidized trailer out there to remove one of the legs of their revenue stool. 

Salatin point #1:  Respect for animals leads to respect for people.   "Allowing a pig to express pigness allows Mary to express Maryness.  If we don't care for our least, we can't care for our most".   I think that having a real concern for the life and care of animals, even those we eat, is important for us.   Factory farms, at a very basic level, are no fun for anyone.  the farmer, the animal, the customer -- all are lessened. 

Salatin point #2:  "We have designed a food system that seems to be focused on creating and maintaining pathogens".    a) single crop (corn, pigs, chickens, peas, etc) b) crowded c) immune systems compromised by antibiotic use.  I cannot argue with this point.  Salatin says "When you have to wear a plastic suite and dip your feet in sheep dip to visit a farm, you know you're in trouble"

Salatin point #3:  On the USDA:  "No other government agency has been so effective at destroying its constituency as this one", pointing to the dropping number of farmers "More people are in prison than are farmers" and "Why is it assumed that the best and brightest should be off the farm?  We need more careful stewards of the land.  We need that ingenuity in this industry"

Salatin point #4:  "We spend more on pet veterinary care here in the USA than they spend on human health care in all of Africa"

Finally, Salatin used this example: 

"If we were to describe a happy meal [from mcdonalds] as a '1', and a cook-from-scratch meal from a aunt, who grows her own food and makes her own mayonaise and so on as a '10', would you in the audience generally agree that the '1' should be regulated? "  Audience generally agreed. 
  "Ok, how about the 10?", says Salatin.  At this point a shouting match erupted in the audience, and after the scuffle died down, Salatin said "well...  EVERYWHERE ELSE they think that it shouldn't be.  But in Seattle, which is DIFFERENT, you believe that it should be regulated. 

And that really sums up the weirdness that is Western Washington.  We want farms and farmers, but we also want regulation.  We want regulation of every aspect of our lives, apparently.  


Mike said...

I am so jealous! I love his views and his way of thought about life. Too bad we dont get people like him on our side of the state. Im glad you got to go though

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Seattle's little sister to the south is the same - "we want to be wierd, but please protect us from everything and if you don't we'll sue you."

Was Marler there?

The real issue about land use here is they don't really want farmers, they want open land for city folk to look at. Actual farming activities are scrutinized and made to jump through hoops, as you well know. Our county changed our zoning to forest land, now we have to "prove" we are farming since farming is a conditional use of forest land. Our Oregon Century Farm status means nothing to the county planners.

Dean Smith said...

Joel Salatin is my hero! I bought tickets and entered the date wrong in my iPhone. So I missed it. Drat! We need a working group in Washington to get "appropriate regulation." We need to establish the principals we want to enforce or encourage and then scale the regulation appropriately to the institution we are trying to regulate to meet those principals. We need the MOST intelligent and compassionate people doing that, rather than the most greedy and most political. Joel says there are a lot of "D" grade farmers. That's what I saw as I was leaving the farm 50 years ago. We're paying for it now.

Unknown said...

Where in the world did this get advertised? We've gone to see him in far off pastures and last week he was in our own back yard? Sheesh.