“Healing the World One Bite at a Time.”

That is the tagline for Polyface Farms – a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm owned and operated by my personal foodie hero, Joel Salatin.

cropped-banner

Photo Credit to www.polyfacefarms.com

This is the Husband.  Thanks for letting me step in on one of Joanna’s off days to quickly introduce you to Joel, and more importantly his philosophy and practices.  This will not be an exhaustive review.  Merely a little something to hopefully whet your appetite so you’ll follow up with a few links below.

ManCaveLogo

Since Joanna started Midwestern Bite, I’ve regularly been following along with her new world.  I’ve seen some of her “internet friends” grow into real friends.  I’ve found a few blogs in this stereotypically girlie niche I enjoy reading every day.  I’ve also found plenty I like to make fun of around the dinner table.

If you were like me and stepped into this strange universe of Foodie-Healthy-Living-Move-Everyday-Look-At-My-Latest-Juice-Cleanse-Miracle-Cure-While-I-Instagram-My-Feet… or for that matter visited your local urban Hipster Market or smalltown suburbia Farmer’s Market… you’d see that eating Organic and/or Local is all the rage these days.

Mr. Salatin’s practices are a little different, and a lot revolutionary only because he’s a throwback to how things used to be done for hundreds of years, yet implementing those core agricultural truths with modern technology like lightweight portable electric fencing.  Farming was done very differently before cheap oil.  Before a chemical conglomerate could manufacture the perfect 10-10-10 “organic” fertilizer mixture that ultimately runs off polluting our drinking water.  Back when farmers understood nature and worked with it to be successful.  Perhaps only by coincidence… maybe not… back before widespread outbreaks of salmonella and mad cow disease. When organic truly meant organic.  Not like today where “Organic(TM)” is a government regulated label that is given away to the newest mad scientist finding a loophole in harmful chemical balancing.  When free range meant free range, not stuffing 5,000 “Free Range(TM)” chickens into a massive noxious barn with one 12″ x 6″ door in a corner they’re unable to find since they don’t have enough muscle or bone density to stand up.

Best of all, Mr. Salatin proves this sustainable means of agriculture is scalable.  He’s doing it on a rather large scale and making a great living at it, while I have sketched plans for a small mobile chicken tractor I plan to use in my backyard with five hens.  Why should I compost, mulch, and remove sod from a new garden bed when they’ll do it for me?

chicken-tractor

Photo Credit to www.backyardchickens.com

Want to learn a little about him in his own words?  I highly recommend checking out the interview embedded below.  You can then ask YouTube to take you on a tour of of his farm to learn how his family hasn’t bought fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide in over fifty years, have never needed to till, and how they’re Healing the World, One Bite at a Time.

Then, if you want to read a little more about his farming, but a lot more about his philosophy on how our ethics, values, and even child raising are ass backwards (and maybe detrimental?) from every generation before about 1955… pick up my favorite book of his, Folks, This Ain’t Normal at Amazon or your local library.

Then you can blog about it.  Along with a new Kale Smoothie recipe.

I haven’t seen one of those in about five minutes.

Question of the Day: Who wants to join my coalition to convince Joanna it’s time we got a few backyard chickens?  Think carefully.  You’re either for me or against me.

8 Comments

  1. Great post Mike,

    Joel Salatin is one of my hero’s. I really wanted to go to the P3 expo at Polyface this year but it just didn’t work out. Paleo “superstar” Rob Wolf and Joel are both speaking about sustainable farming and healthy food. One day I will get out to his farm and see it for myself.

    I don’t know if this is true, I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone once said Joel Salatin had to raise the exterior fences on his paddocks because he was building so much soil up over the years the fences were to low.

    I love that Joel calls himself a “grass-farmer”. You have enough room for a cow or two…

    • In one of his farm tour videos I recently watched he gave the following numbers – It takes 1000 years for nature to build 1 inch of quality top soil from migratory herds of herbivores. In 100 years of mechanized agricultural practices, we’ve washed or blew away 5 feet of that top soil. In the 50 years his family has been working the land, starting from bedrock, they’ve replaced about 8 inches of it. That’s pretty impressive. Especially because it’s so simple to do.

      He said his Dad had to set fence posts in old tires filled with cement because they couldn’t pound posts into shale. Now they obviously don’t have that problem.

      Let me know if you head out there. Road trip!

  2. he is MY personal foodie hero too! I’m glad you wrote this post.

  3. Ok, first of all Joel Salatin is also one of my personal heros for what he does to redefine the paradigm of healthy eating…from the grass up. If there’s room, I’m definitely up for the road trip.

    Second, I haven’t yet met Joanna in person. While I expect we would we hit it off splendidly, I hesitate to answer the chicken question…
    When I think about your location, the benefit of using chickens to do some of the cultivation work necessary for your family’s food production, the benefit of knowing the health and diet of chickens that would produce your eggs or grace your soup pot, and the sheer joy of connecting with nature by having these birds as part of the cycle of life on your property, I can see the Husband’s desire. However, I look for to meeting Joanna, so no…probably not chickens. 😉 😉

  4. My sister and I have developed a food intolerance to full-on eggs in the last 5 years. I thought she was being all drama about it, until I started getting cramps after weekend breakfasts week after week… Quail eggs and duck eggs don’t do it to me, but chicken ones always do, no matter where I get them. So. Sorry Joanna, but I will need to eat an egg from man cave hens to know if I’m really allergic, or if everywhere else is messing with eggs. It’s for scientific prosperity.

    • Posterity. Sheesh.

    • Let me pretend for a second I know what the hell I’m talking about… Cuz I don’t.

      Ann, any chance you have an allergy to soy? A lot of the crap industrial chicken feeds are full of soy. That stuff aggregates in the chicken and gets passed on massively to you. Might be worth looking into. Maybe you can find a pastured poultry place that doesn’t supplement with any soy and try their eggs.

      Or maybe you don’t care about eggs that much. 🙂

      • Not sure! I’ve tried all sorts of free run, organic, or farmer’s market eggs, and nothing seems to work (and I eat soy this and that and it doesn’t seem to bug me). There was one farmer’s market chicken lady who said it might be mandatory medication that goes into the chicken feeds, and that I don’t react to duck eggs because they can’t feed it to ducks or they’ll die. How’s that for a warm and fuzzy about farming? But I tried her eggs which she said she raised on duck feed and I still had problems. Bright side – quail eggs are tasty for when I have a craving, and it’s pretty cool when my 3-year-old screams “more quail eggs, mummy!!!”