Joel Salatin’s Ballet in the Pasture


By Waltraud Beckmann

[Note: This is the second post by guest blogger Waltraud Beckmann, who attended Hope College’s Critical Issues Symposium, “Good Food for the Common Good,” while I was at the Taste of Greenmarket in New York City on the very same day. (For her first post, check out “Bryant Terry on Good Food for the Common Good.”)]

The second keynote address at Hope College’s Critical Issues Symposium, “Good Food for the Common Good,” was Wednesday morning, October 6. And Dimnent Chapel was full again with people eager to hear about healthy food and healthy farming. The keynote speaker, Joel Salatin, believes in a systemic ethical framework for farming, living, and eating. Known for his farming practices at Polyface Farm–a successful, small-scale, pasture-based farm that raises healthy people, animals, plants and soil in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Joel has been featured in the movie, “Food, Inc.,” as well as Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. A self-proclaimed “Christian-Libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer,” he is a well-known author and charismatic media personality in the cultural conversation about food and the environment.

In his address, “Ballet in the Pasture,” Joel took the audience to his farm in words and slides, demonstrating how each part of the farm, the environment, as well as each animal, are partaking in providing a cycle–a natural and native template, each depending on each other as well as enhancing each other.

Joel showed that, by using high-tech methods and materials, as well as creative choreography, sensitive and smart farming with a philosophy of local outreach can outdo–and is superior to–the industrialized system of the mechanistic monoculture approach.  His world is about allowing each life form to exist and co-exist with respect, while the industrialized world is about growing and turning it into gains faster and cheaper, regardless of consequences–humans and their health, animals and their well-being.

For more about Joel Salatin, check out this video on YouTube.

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