Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Favorite Quotes from Joel Salatin

Since I'm generally done with the organic section of the book, I wanted to share some of my favorite quote by Joel Salatin. He's such a great character, that I'm not at all surprised that anyone who makes a documentary on food also makes the trek out to his farm to interview him.

"It might not look that way, but this is all information-age stuff we're doing here. Polyface Farm is a postindustrial enterprise. You'll see."

"Dad was definitely a little odd, but in a good way. How many other Christian conservatives were reading Mother Earth News? He lived out his beliefs. I can remember when the Arab oil embargo hit in 1974, Dad rode his bicycle thirty-five miles back and forth to work every day because he refused to buy another drop of imported oil. He would have been a wonderful tent dweller, always living on less than you have and more lightly than you need to. But you want to know when I miss him the most? When I see thick hay and earthworm casings and slick cows, all the progress we've made since he left us. Oh, how proud he would be to see this place now!"

"I'm just the orchestra conductor, making sure everybody's in the right place at the right time."

"Take the issue of scale. I could sell a whole lot more chickens and eggs than I do. They're my most profitable items, and the market is telling me to produce more of them. Operating under the industrial paradigm, I could boost production however much I wanted- just buy more chicks and more feed, crank up that machine. But in a biological system you can never do just one thing, and I couldn't add many more chickens without messing up something else."

"This is the sort of farm machinery I like: never needs its oil changed, appreciates over time, and when you're done with it you eat it."

"Part of the problem is, you've got a lot of D students left on the farm today. The guidance counselors encouraged all the A students to leave home and go to college. There's been a tremendous brain drain in rural America. Of course that suits Wall Street just fine; Wall Street is always trying to extract brainpower and capital from the countryside. First they take the brightest bulbs off the farm and put them to work in Dilbert's cubicle, and then they go after the capital of the dimmer ones who stayed behind, by selling them a bunch of gee-whiz solutions to their problems. It's a foolish culture that entrusts its food supply to simpletons."

"Most of the time pests and disease are just nature's way of telling the farmer he's doing something wrong."

"Don't you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?"

"All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse. And make no mistake: It's happening. The mainstream is splitting into smaller and smaller groups of like-minded people. It's a little like Luther nailing his ninety-five theses up at Wittenberg. Back then it was the printing press that allowed the Protestants to break off and form their own communities; now it's the Internet, splintering us into tribes that want to go their own way."

Regarding his prices:
"I don't accept the premise [that it's elitist]. First off, those weren't any elitists you met on the farm this morning. We sell to all kinds of people. Second, whenever I hear people say clean food is expensive, I tell them it's actually the cheapest food you can buy. That always gets their attention. Then I explain that with our food all of the costs are figured into the price. Society is not bearing the cost of water pollution, of antibiotic resistance, of food-borne illnesses, of crop subsidies, of subsidized oil and water- of all the hidden costs to the environment and the taxpayer that make cheap food seem cheap. No thinking person will tell you they don't care about all that. I tell them the choice is simple: You can buy honestly priced food or you can buy irresponsibly priced food."

Okay, not Joel, but a great quote from his brother, Art.
"We have to battle the idea that you can have anything you want any time you want it. Like 'spring lamb.' What the hell does that mean? That's not its natural cycle. You want lambs to hit the ground when the grass is lush, in April. They won't be ready for eight to ten months after that- not till early winter. But the market's become totally out of sync with nature. We should eat red meat when it's cold, but people want chicken in the winter, when we don't have it."

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