Joel Salatin, the internationally famous ‘Lunatic Farmer’, Author (Folks, This Ain’t Normal, Everything I Want to do is Illegal, You Can Farm … and many more), and star subject of food renegade documentary films, (Food Inc., Fresh, American Meat) thinks our bus is “Cool as grits!” (he said so!) —
That’s a fat feather in our caps, since he’s one of our heroes, and someone who we believe is really doing things right in the world — From farming for sustenance to the humane and natural raising of animals and eating local; Joel Salatin has been a great inspiration and motivator for us to embark upon our Free Range Quest. Before he delivered his wildly popular lecture entitled “Local Food to the Rescue” at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, Mr. Salatin took a tour of our work-in-progress and gave us some fantastic ideas that we plan to implement as we finish the remodel of our bus into a cabin on wheels (so that we can head out in search of our own little farming paradise)!
Here is a little bit of what we found to be food for thought during our day with Joel Salatin:
“There’s something about farming, about working in the soil that gives people common sense.”
Salatin’s voice rises as sweat glistens on his brow. With the fury of a pulpit-pounding preacher he testifies the gospel of the local food movement – a Hallelujah chorus of produce, poultry and pork!
The crowd whistles and ‘Amens!’ punctuate the hall as the charmingly-mad minister reels off the list of industrial food system sins. From the Opaqueness of factory farming that creates a lack of integrity and accountability in the food industry — to the energy consumption involved in transporting produce that becomes more expensive than the monetary or nutritional value of the produce itself, Salatin describes the broken systems that are disconnecting people from their food, health, and community.
But he does not leave us daunted or discouraged — rather, he inspires us to continue to seek out a lifestyle where we can be fully integrated with our food and where it comes from. Salatin admits he still eats bananas (obviously not a locavore item) and he reminds us with great humor that “Skill comes with practice and practice comes with STARTING! If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly first — It’s okay to fall. We don’t do anything right the first time – That’s the way all first steps start and that is how we will punch through.”
For those concerned about the cost of eating locally and organically, Salatin explains that, for the most part, it’s all about your personal priorities. Many are more worried about the higher price of humanely raised meat and organic, local vegetables than with the fact that they are contributing to putting virtual garbage into their bodies and the ecosystem. If this is the case, your priorities may be askew. One of Salatin’s now-famous quotes is, “If you think the price of organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?”
“Whenever anybody says, ‘it’s too expensive, I can’t afford it,’ I want to grab them by the collar and say ‘OK, OK, take me home, take me to your house… Here’s what we’re not gonna see where you live: We’re not gonna see any soda, we’re not gonna see widescreen TVs, we’re not gonna see a cell phone, take out pizza boxes or burger king boxes….A pox on that! It can cost $10 for a Burger King meal!…you can come to our farm and get 2 whole pounds of world-class, grass-fed beef for less than it cost you to buy that Burger King meal…If I come to your house, I don’t want to see…processed food…potato chips, cigarettes, alcohol, or $100 designer jeans with holes already in the knee! If your house doesn’t have any of those things, then lets talk — Its all about our values. And I’m suggesting; Who needs Caribbean cruises? Who needs Las Vegas? Who needs Hollywood!? I’m getting tired of people who say ‘I can’t afford it.’ — Then they go golfing on the weekends — and there are people really in hardship, and my heart bleeds for them, but you know what, instead of sitting around here and feeling paralyzed about the 1% most extreme and difficult example, let’s get excited about what we can do — there are so many who could do more but [they] aren’t.”
His hands gyrate in a frenzy describing a Heaven-on-Earth, an integrated system of virtually waste-free natural harmony. The Promised Land of abundance.
It is old-time religion – and salvation is an incantation to summon the great miracles that are the very cycle of life itself. “Every single one of us, including me, can do more than we are doing, and that’s the message I want to leave you with today.”
-David & Kristina-