Feeding the Masses Without Factory Farming?

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Combine one of the world’s most influential farmers with an insanely popular podcaster, and you get one powerhouse episode of The Joe Rogan Experience! 

 Joel Salatin, who describes himself as a “Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer,” is best known for being featured in Michael Pollan’s New York Times Bestseller, Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as the documentary Food, Inc.  Along with his family, he owns and runs the Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, making him a great resource for concepts about local-centric farming. One can see how clearly he revels in answering all the questions from Joe Rogan in their 2-hour, multi-faceted, uninterrupted conversation. 

“… the best season we’ve ever had”

Reports of food shortage and panic-buying have recently been flooding the news feeds. But for Salatin, he claims that this pandemic has become the “best marketing strategy” they have ever seen. “Them” refers to the smaller-scale farms and producers. 

With the food chain system failing to adjust to new demand and restrictions, people have begun buying directly from farmers and local producers. Farmers have taken the that to ensure that their products can go from farm to table directly, without the need for a middleman. A great point, as small-scale farms, farmers markets and even cottage industry players have been churning out new ideas for how to conveniently and safely provide food in this challenging time.

Industrial Food Sector vs Community-Based Farms

This is one topic that Salatin could seemingly discuss all day. He makes quite a few pertinent points, urging listeners to rethink what they’ve become so used to doing. He is a big advocate of having “small scale, community-based, ecologically nested facilities” as opposed to the “mega-processing” currently producing most of the nation’s meat. 

Still, it’s not just about expanding the business to include smaller players. Focus must also be on environmental impact: ethically producing and harvesting food, and letting go of cramped, animal slaughterhouses which can often be a “concentrated host facility” of pathogens: a threat to both animals and humans.

Unrecognized Food Costs

Rogan and Salatin’s conversation about smaller-scale farms also pointed out one touchy subject: the costs and budgets of food for the average American family. Wouldn’t it be more expensive to buy these organic, pasture-raised, non-GMO farm products instead of what can be currently grabbed on the supermarket shelves? Salatin confirms this. However, he also noted that while people can save in the short-term buy purchasing cheaper commercial goods, the long-term effects on healthcare costs and the environment may be costly. 

Cultivate A Love For Growing

With everyone so used to grabbing what’s readily available, Salatin encouraged listeners to grow and produce some of the food they need not just for efficiency, but for the experience. Aside from reducing excess waste, growing produce and animals can also hele people grow. “It’s good for nutrition, it’s good for your soul, it’s good for your spirit. In a time where everybody is concerned about death, surround yourself with something that’s growing.” 

Conclusion

While some might disagree with the ideas and principles expressed on the show, Joel Salatin’s points are worth pondering. In the face of our “new normal”, it will take some innovation to keep things moving forward.  

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