When you put together two of the most famous people in the world – one of the most influential farmers and one of the most popular podcasters, you get one powerhouse episode of The Joe Rogan Experience that spanned quite a range of topics!
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” and in the documentary Food, Inc. Along with his family, he owns and runs the Polyface Farm in Virginia, making him a great resource for concepts about local-centric farming. One can see just how much he revels in answering all the questions of Joe Rogan, in their 2-hour, multi-faceted, uninterrupted conversation. He made quite a lot of points, some of which he has always been very passionate about.
Reports of food shortage and people resorting to panic buying have been flooding the news feeds. But for Salatin, he shares that this pandemic has become the “best marketing strategy” they have ever seen. Them, meaning the smaller-scale farms and producers.
With the food chain system failing to adjust to the new needs and restrictions, people have been shifting to buying directly from farmers and local producers. Farmers have also taken that step to ensure that their products can go from farm to table directly, without the need for any middle process. A great point, because smaller-scale farms, farmers markets, or even cottage industry players have been churning out ideas after ideas on how they can conveniently and safely provide food for the people at this time.
This is one topic that Salatin can probably discuss all day. He can enumerate quite a lot of pertinent points that can make his listeners rethink about what they have been so used to doing. He is a big advocate of having “small scale, community-based, ecologically nested facilities” instead of these “mega-processing” plants in producing the nation’s meat needs.
But it’s not just about expanding the business to the smaller players. It is also about caring for the environment, letting animals be the animals they should be, having ethically produced and harvested food, and letting go of these cramped animal slaughterhouses, which can also be a “concentrated host facility” of pathogens – for both the animals and the humans.
Rogan and Salatin’s conversation about having these smaller-scale farms also pointed out one touchy subject: the food cost and food budget of each person and 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. But he also noted that what the people can save now in buying cheaper and commercially available food choices, might be even more costly in the long run – looking at healthcare costs and the effect on the environment. He even made an interesting point about how the people’s spending habits on food and healthcare reversed from 40 years ago to now.
With everyone so used to just grabbing and buying what’s easily available, Salatin encouraged everyone to grow and produce some of the food they need. Aside from reducing excess waste, growing produce and animals can also make the 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.”
While many would not agree, and even contest to the numerous ideas and principles that Joel Salatin has expressed on the show, it might be something to ponder on for the future, as we find our new normal. Because let’s face it, that is how they are making things work right now.