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01 November 2006

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I first heard Joel Salatin on a local NPR (Boston's WBUR) discussion about the recent spinach scare. I was so intrigued by him that I put his books on my reading list immediately. I got sidetracked by Omnivore's Dilemma, but I'm glad to hear the great report on his writing. You can listen to Salatin on the spincach discussion here: http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2006/09/20060920_a_main.asp. I haven't listened to this one yet, but here's another interview with him about permaculture: http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/05/20050504_a_main.asp.

No Silverbrow's not. Funnily enough, for the first time today I've put up an about page, explaining it's a made up surname.

I'm pleased you enjoyed the Ruhlman podcast, thanks for linking to it. He was great to interview, very easy going.

Thanks for fucking telling me Harold fucking McGee is fucking blogging!! Finally. (I can be so out of touch.)
Oh. Do I sound like Joy?
Sorry.
Great, great post. Lots of good stuff.
(Can I send you padrons? Dr. Pepper sells them to the proprietor of my local Spanish Table; they don't sell out.)

I'm a grass-fed livestock farmer living near Joel Salatin and have visited his farm and bought his products many times. His new book "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal" does accurately reflect who Joel is: funny, blunt, knowledgeable (about some topics), charismatic, certainly a pioneer.

However, beware of making assumptions about Joel. The vast majority of his customers and fans are interested in organic foods, have an environmentalist bent, and are politically liberal. They may assume that Joel is like them -- but be assured that he certainly is not. Joel hates all those things. He is a fundamentalist Christian creationist and his politics are somewhere to the right of Dick Cheney.

A few examples: He shoots any non-farm animal that comes on his property (including dogs, rare martens, and birds of prey), and does it with an enthusiasm that is disturbing for a so-called "poster boy for humane agriculture." This "ecological farmer" opposes wilderness areas, endangered species protection, and farmland preservation and would like to see all land privatized to be milked for all its worth in the name of "property rights." He compares animal-rights supporters and vegetarians to abortionists. And that's just a few of the chapters!

While I agree with a number of his points -- for example, that small-scale farmers should be exempt from regulations designed for corporate agribusinesses like Cargill or Tyson -- his simplistic libertarianism is more appropriate for a college sophomore.

Yes, he pioneered pastured poultry and popularized grass-fed farming in general. The number of different profitable enterprises on his farm is remarkable. And anybody who can make a living farming these days should be congratulated. But this book shows him as a generic, naive libertarian wanna-be who has a persecution complex and a far higher opinion of himself than is deserved.

I highly recommend his other, more practical, books -- "Salad Bar Beef" etc -- instead of this angry right-wing rant. Let's hope a more moderate farmer steps up as a spokesman for this critical paradigm shift in agriculture.

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