I'm fairly certain that people who are intimately familiar with Joel Salatin and his philosophy and ideas and writing know much more than myself as far as the good, bad and ugly that goes with having opinions and publicly voicing them...especially about something so terribly personal as food. I would however at this juncture in our relationship like to introduce you to ideas that could have you consider something that might be just a little larger than you are comfortable with.
The New York Times calls Salatin "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture". Salatin calls himself an environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer.
I have to admit that those quotes are enough to draw my curiosity and give the article a few minutes of my time. To further bait your curiosity, I have posted a quote from the article explaining some of his techniques which marry the traditional heritage farm with state of the art technology allowing a "better than nature" approach to farming.
If you'd like to see more, click the "Read More" button to view the quote and a link to the entire article.
From the article:
"Salatin's secret is the grass, and it is in the pasture that everything begins and ends. He believes that every square yard of sward should contain at least 40 varieties of plants, and he calls his fields a ''salad bar,'' a riot of fescues and clovers and earthworms churning the soil. Cattle graze freely on a patch of this super-rich pasture, held in by an electrified wire. Every day or so, they are moved to a new patch, and a succession of chickens (or turkeys, in season) are moved into the plot that the cows just left. Both laying chickens and broilers -- raised for their meat -- have portable shelters for shade and are protected from predators by portable webbed polyethylene fencing interlaced with electrified wire. Buried, pond-fed plastic pipes channel pressurized water, virtually anywhere, on demand. The chickens dig through fresh cowpatties for nutritious grubs and worms, and then scratch the manure into the dirt, aerating the soil and creating compost, so the cycle of growth can begin all over again.
In winter, the approach is, if anything, even more ingenious. Cattle are sheltered in open-sided barns -- with hand-hewn log poles and timbers milled from the Salatins' oak trees. They rest on a thick bed of straw and are fed hay in V-shaped troughs designed by Joel to be raised and lowered on ropes and pulleys. Every couple of days, fresh straw is tossed onto the barn floor, where the cattle each deposit an average of 50 pounds of manure and urine a day, and the feed troughs are raised to keep pace with the rising straw on the floor. As the pile gets higher, sawdust, wood chips and whole shelled corn are mixed in. The result is a sweetly decomposing heap that gives off heat to keep the cattle warm and no odor worse than the pleasant dampness of a breast-fed baby's diaper. Then the cows are turned out, and the pigs (which in summer forage freely on the pasture's wooded hillsides and are moved around with more electric fencing) come in, rooting around through the layers of straw for the nuggets of fermenting corn. Voila: more aerated compost to be spread over the pasture when spring comes. Joel calls these living machines his ''pig-aerators'' and proudly notes that, unlike most farm equipment, which depreciates, rusts and costs money to repair or replace, they actually appreciate, get fatter and bring a fine price at slaughter, while doing work for which only their own internal-combustion engine is needed."