Joel Salatin: Re-birth of the Family Farm and the Household Economy

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Without exaggeration, Joel Salatin is not on the cutting edge, he is the cutting edge of the family farm’s rebirth. On his own Polyface Farm he has developed techniques for raising animals that require very low inputs but return very high profits, completely overturning industrial agricultural methods. Through his books—Pastured Poultry Profits, Holy Cows & Hog Heaven, Salad Bar Beef, Family Friendly Farming—and innumerable columns and articles in Acres, USA, Stockman Grass Farmer, and other publications he has also taught his techniques to a new generation of farm families. teleradiology pacs

As important as agriculture is, he represents something even more important: a colossal shift from the industrial to the household economy. Thousands—perhaps millions—of families across America are turning to the household economy to recover their freedom. This constitutes a pervasive sea change away from industrial economy its inhumane social relations to a more efficient, self-examined, pleasurable, and humane society. This struggle as the old ways die and the new bloom will rage viciously, and will rule economy and society for the next 50 to 100 years. Eventually, Mr. Salatin and the innovators will triumph.

Y’all can visit Mr. Salatin’s website, www.polyfacefarms.com, and you can also order his books there.

F. SANDERS — I know a lot of radical and revolutionary people, but only you are promoting a shift from industrial to household economy.

J. SALATIN — I may be the only one you know, but there are others.

F. SANDERS — What took you in this direction? Your farm model flies in the face of everything taught in the Ag schools.

J. SALATIN — My grandfather was a charter subscriber to Rodale’s Organic Gardening & Farming Magazine in 1949. There was a real watershed agriculturally from the end of WWII to 1950, and there were powerhouse people involved. Louis Bromfield is one of them, a wealthy friend of movie stars. Very much opposed to industrial agriculture, he was actually up for Secretary of Agriculture before he mysteriously died. In the late ’40s and ’50s there was a huge split about which direction we would take agriculturally, more naturally or more industrially? People like Ed Faulkner wrote Plowman’s Folly at that time and it went through six printings in a year. It was a New York Times best seller, selling 500,000 copies in six months. Can you imagine a book by that title, showing the inappropriateness of the mold board plow, selling 500,000 copies in six moths? His subsequent book was Soil Development, and it was a run-away best seller as well.

F. SANDERS — About that time also the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) began talking about reducing the number of American farms in the country to 50,000, and touting farms as “factories in the field.”

J. SALATIN — One reason to get rid of the farmers was to put manpower into the city factory. From about 1930 to 1960, the cultural policy was to relocate rural population to man city factories. At the beginning of the information economy the goal was similar, but it pushed to put people into Dilbert’s cubicle. As the information economy has moved forward, it is actually liberating people from Dilbert’s cubicle. If you’re up-linked, you can work from anywhere. Now we’re seeing office nooks in every house and a wonderful trend back to the home-based office. Those that I read follow this line of reasoning: we’ve spent the last 100 years depopulating rural America and we will now spend the next 100 years depopulating cities. Why? Because people are being liberated via the information superhighway, which is electronic and doesn’t require pavement or cars. In 1800 all the land in Great Britain was owned by 5,000 landowners. By 1900, 1.5 million people owned that same land. These huge shifts between rural and urban have occurred before. The people that I read say that we’ll spend the next 100 years repopulating the countryside. We see that already with all the mansions springing up in the country.

F. SANDERS — I’m not sure that’s exactly what I have in mind when we talk about repopulating the countryside. Doesn’t that merely move the city to the country?

J. SALATIN — Well, some of it does, but realize that many of us don’t appreciate the bigger picture of what I call the “residential estate”—the one and two acre residential estate. Still, I absolutely understand moving from the city to the country. If times got tough, those people would have the ability to have a cow; some chickens, a garden, a grove of trees for firewood. They would have the wherewithal to survive that simply doesn’t exist in the city. Just as the victory garden became a cultural phenomenon in WWII because everybody with a postage stamp of grass began growing food, we’re seeing a similar potential increase in the bigger country lawns being run over by lawnmowers. At least it’s peopled, non-asphalted land that can be put to use, as opposed to a condominium.

F. SANDERS — You were talking about your grandfather.

J. SALATIN — My grandfather was a charter Organic Farming subscriber, and he adopted the natural, environmental approach as opposed to chemicals. He had a diverse half-acre garden with bramble fruits and strawberries. He was very much a tinkerer and inventor—he holds the patents on the first walking garden sprinkler, those things that roll up a garden hose, called the Sprink-Reel. From my grandfather my dad got his love of farming and the land and plants and biology. Along with that he caught the belief that agriculture is more than merely answering the question, How much money can I make today? I got all that from my dad. In 1961 Dad and Mom bought this farm and worked off the farm to pay for it. What I got was a piece of raw land. Our first ten years from 1961-1971 were spent trying to pay for the land and stop the erosion.

F. SANDERS — Your farm lies fairly high up in the hills in Virginia?

J. SALATIN — We are on the edge of the Shenandoah valley, so our house sits at 1,800 feet, and the topmost part of the farm sits at 2,800 feet, a thousand foot elevation difference over two miles. We are about 1/2 mile wide and 2 miles long, 550 acres.

F. SANDERS — So nature has handed you an erosion problem? When you start removing trees or plowing, top soil will disappear if you aren’t careful.

J. SALATIN — Absolutely. That’s what happened here in the Valley. This was the tall grass prairie of the mid-Atlantic region. The Indians used fire as their tool to keep back the hard woods and create savannah pastures for the buffalo, elk, prairie chickens, turkeys, and everything else. The landscape was very much manmade and manipulated, but in a way that never turned the soil upside down.

Then the Europeans came, from a background of temperate gentle rains and 30-70° moderate temperatures. Rather than asking what would make the land better, for the next 500 years they simply transplanted their experience with English and European arable small grain, annual croplands and plowed it all. That created erosion on a grand scale. When we first arrived here the farm was the most gullied and eroded farm in the area. That’s why we got it cheap. In 1961 we bought a 1750 house, a shed, a pole barn, a tractor, an old baler, a hay rake, a little Ford mower, and 550 acres for $49,000.

F. SANDERS — [laughing]

J. SALATIN — Different days then.

F. SANDERS — Right, but that price probably reflects the land’s economic value much more accurately than today’s prices.

J. SALATIN — For the first time in American civilization, land prices have no relationship to their productive value. Many people—people whom I study and appreciate their wisdom—believe that we are now moving into a time when land ownership will be a defensive economic measure. Land rental will be an offensive economic move, because you can rent it much cheaper than you can own it.

In addition to our farm we rent two other farms. One was sold a year ago and we rolled through to the new land owner. That farm sold for $1.5 million and we rent it for $3,500 a year—that wouldn’t touch the interest on $1.5 million. Our other farm is twice as large and we rent it for $8,000 and it is valued somewhere in the $3-4 million range. So we have access to 360 acres of pasture for $11,000 [$30.56 per acre per year]. That generates income because the rent is relatively low, since everybody knows, “ain’t no money in farming.” We compete with any other old codger in the area that doesn’t know a lick about pasture management or how to make money on a farm. Our “competitive advantage” is our ability to manage the land with the intensive, controlled grazing and direct marketing, so we’re able to double and triple the income potential per acre.

F. SANDERS — Do you think that as the chemical agricultural model reached the point when it began to poison or outgrow itself? Has it reached the point of diminishing returns? Is the whole modern economic set-up reaching that same point?

J. SALATIN — An old law says, “Nobody’s thrown a ball so high it didn’t come down.” I don’t think anybody believes that an economy can just grow and grow and grow forever.

F. SANDERS — Well, they claim to. That’s exactly what the government experts say and everyone seems to believe that.

J. SALATIN — There’s not one in history that ever has, so there will be a correction, whether due to running out of oil or hyperinflation or whatever. You can be assured there will be some correction because nothing in nature grows forever without a correction.

Nature tends toward balance. There’s a reason why an elephant is the size of an elephant and a mouse is the size of a mouse. Animals are correctly sized for their physiological adaptation. There’s a reason why the average NFL player dies at 56. It’s because they’re all freaks. In order to play football at that level, you must be a freak of nature. That’s an example of how extremes tend to be weeded out naturally. When we’re saving a bull, we don’t save the biggest or the littlest. We save the bull that’s in the middle, that’s balanced. One problem in agriculture is that everything has been pushed to grow faster, cheaper, and bigger. When that is the only goal of selection over and over, you grow yourself out of viability.

F. SANDERS — For example, pigs are now raised in houses where you and I aren’t permitted. Only the farmer enters and he wears a biohazard suit because those animals are so weak that any sort of infection could kill them all. They’re so nervous that if a tractor gets too close to the barn or a door is slammed, they’ll keel over with a heart attack. The meat is so prone to excess acidity that over 15% is classed “PSE”—Pale, Soft Exudative. That means it’s seeping thin reddish liquid and is very pale, no good at all to eat. I call it PPS—”Putrid Pork Syndrome”. Or you can look at cattle grown around here. Farmers have Angus cattle, a great beef breed, but they bring in a huge Charolais bull, because he’s big, so they spend all their time pulling calves. They’re breeding animals that can’t deliver without midwives. It’s all unnatural.

What makes your work more important than merely its agricultural application (although that’s important enough) is that the model applies to the world at large. Has the modern industrial system reached the point of diminishing returns, not only in actual productive terms, but also in terms of human satisfaction and life-quality and human relations? In those terms, it peaked decades ago. What makes your model so interesting is that it shifts away from that industrial model to an efficient household economy.

J. SALATIN — The cultural tsunami that it indicated it had gone to an extreme was the whole hippie movement—back-to-the-land-beaded-bearded-braless. The industrial economy kept telling young people, “You just keep pouring concrete and making rebar and everything is going to be all right. Keep punching the time clock.”

But the human soul wearied of simply grinding out more pounds of stuff for somebody like Henry Ford. He used to say to plant visitors, “The only complaint I have about this system is that I have to hire a whole man, when all I need are his two hands.” How would you like to work for a man like that?

F. SANDERS — That is the heart of the industrial system, though. When you begin to put pigs—and you’ve seen pigs dance before the wind—into a confinement operation were sows are actually strapped down or kept in a cage all their lives, then a huge transformation has taken place. The word animal comes from the Latin word for “soul.” I certainly don’t mean that animals are equal to humans, but the image of God appears in them, too. Not the same way it appears in men as creatures with a reasonable soul, but it’s there still. A society that treats animals in its agriculture as if they were machines has lost sight of everything except money and the bottom line.

J. SALATIN — That’s absolutely right. In 1837 Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper; that marked the beginning of industrial agriculture.

In 1837, Justis von Leibhig did his vacuum seal experiments and told the world that plants were only nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, that’s all. And in 1837 an interesting fellow set sail from England on a ship called the Beagle. He informed us that God had nothing to do with creation.

So in 1837 converged all the beginning threads that would ultimately remove artisanal, hand craftsmanship out of food production. Philosophically they assumed God was not involved, and academically they believed biology is nothing more that inanimate structure. When those three ideas refined and converged, they became what we have now: a culture that displays a manipulative industrial mindset toward biological life. We view plants and animals as inanimate objects, or protoplasmic globs of mechanical molecular structure, without any physiological distinctiveness. Nothing is fearfully and wonderfully made by divine design, and so no reverence, no honor, no nothing.

F. SANDERS — Not surprising, then, that human beings are viewed the same way.

J. SALATIN — Absolutely! And a culture that views life from this perspective must have image problems image among its young people, because it gives them no reason to live. They amount to no more than piles of protoplasmic structure—bags of chemicals—created by fate for someone else to manipulate. That culture will also disrespect and dishonor other cultures and other thought processes with the same arrogance it shows toward the plants and animals under its stewardship.

F. SANDERS — Among the best things you do is promoting the idea that people can move to the country and make a decent living, plus enjoy their lives much more. You are talking about freedom, but not in the shallow way George Bush prates about freedom. Rather, you mean resuming responsibility with freedom. Tell me about this model.

J. SALATIN — Number 1, it’s pasture-based. Perennials don’t have to be ploughed. The same idea appears in the Old Testament, where Israelite culture was founded on a nomadic, pastoral existence, herding animals. The images of Psalm 23 aren’t accidental. The Kenites are lauded for leaving pastures better than they found them. This approach appears throughout the scriptures. Pastures were not included in the 7-year rest cycle. Only arable land was in the 7-year cycle. The first thing a pasture based system frees you from is heavy metal [tractors & equipment] and buying seed. It runs on solar dollars, it rejuvenates itself, it’s a wonderful blanket and cloth for the Earth. This flies right in the face of the industrial model, because those are all concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO).

Number 2, this system needs symbiotic multi-species relationships to take advantage of waste streams and let the waste streams begin the next line. So instead of being a cattleman or a poultry farmer or an orchardist concentrating on a single crop, you cultivate a diversified product and income stream that creates its own resiliency and balance because your eggs aren’t all in one basket.

F. SANDERS — What does “symbiotic and multi-species” mean?

J. SALATIN — In our orchard we run turkeys under the fruit trees. The turkeys shade up around the tree, side dress it with nitrogen, get rid of bugs, and mow the grass. The trees protect the turkeys from airborne predators. Instead of one income stream on that acre, you have two. Not only does it create two income streams, it reduces the cost stream. The turkeys actually save pesticide and fertilizer and mowing costs for the orchard, so the sum is more than the total of the parts.

F. SANDERS — The feedback loop.

J. SALATIN — Another example is our egg-mobile. These two movable henhouses, each with 450 hens follow the cows through the pasture rotation. They scratch through the cow patties and eat the fly larvae and grasshoppers and crickets and turn all that into eggs, so we don’t have to give the cows Ivermectin and grubicides and wormers and they sanitize the paddock biologically. Instead of us spending $10-20 per cow to de-bug them, our sanitation creates by-product eggs to sell to the tune of $15,000/year.

The final example is the pigerators in the barn. The heart of our farm is compost which we make from feeding cows hay in the winter. We add bedding under the cows because they are dropping 50 lb. of goodies out of their back end everyday. That bedding builds up and ferments through the winter and is actually warm. We add corn with every new layer of bedding. That bedding builds up to three or four feet deep and we take the cows out in the spring and we put in the pigs. Pigs have a big sign across their foreheads: “Will Work For Corn.” They go for that fermenting corn buried down in that bedding pack. They flip that whole big layered bedding pack upside down, oxygenating it and making aerobic compost. The animals do all the work.

F. SANDERS — They go three or four feet deep?

J. SALATIN — Well, big pigs will root down to three feet deep. We let them root down a couple of feet, then remove that loose layer and put the pigs back in. The beauty is that we’re using appreciating animals to do the work, as opposed to depreciating machinery. The pigs don’t need an oil change, spare parts, or fuel. They don’t require minimum wage, and, my goodness! what a retirement program! When you’re done with them, you eat them. It works with any size operation because you don’t have to recapitalize an infrastructure that rots, rusts, and depreciates. In the average farming setup, you don’t actually replace your infrastructure until your millionth unit of whatever. With this model you’re using appreciating biology to do your work, so the profit potential is size neutral. You can make a profit on 2 pigs, 10 pigs, or 500 pigs. It makes no difference because the animals are doing multiple tasks.

F. SANDERS — Right, and they’re doing the work, instead of you doing the work.

J. SALATIN — From a spiritual aspect, to me it’s just fantastic because it allows the pigs to be more than just hams and bacon. The pigs join us as fellow laborers and team members. This creates a tremendous amount of respect, appreciation, and reverence for them that raises moral and ethical boundaries around our human cleverness.

F. SANDERS — What you describe with pigs is what I feel working behind draft horses. When I first realized that those horses wanted to please me, the thought struck my mind: This is what God created us for in Eden.

J. SALATIN — Yes.

F. SANDERS — You are consciously working together with them and all the pieces of the puzzle seem to come together.

J. SALATIN — Right, preach it, brother. Can I get an amen?

F. SANDERS — Back to your model, you said it’s pasture based, symbiotic, and multi-species.

J. SALATIN — The next element of the model is related: stacking enterprises to create additional value from your resource base. For example, we run the pastured broilers in the field. That generates $3,000 per acre. Ahead of the broilers we run cows to eat down the grass, preparing the table for the broilers because they like short, not long. grass. The cows bring in $300-400 an acre. The egg mobile comes behind the cows and generates another couple hundreds dollars an acre. Late in the season we can run turkeys behind the broilers to bring in another $2,000 an acre.

Add all those up and you’re talking about $5-6,000 an acre. You realize, “My goodness! I can simply keep stacking these complimentary enterprises on the same land base.” A bandsaw mill builds a shed to keep the winter manure from leaching and becomes the compost turner for pigs in the spring. Your woodlot, through your bandsaw mill, creates fertilizer and again, there are tremendous spiritual ramifications.

To expand and create a place for a son or daughter, the average farmer must buy more land. This will be a big deal in the next 15 years since half of all American farmland will change hands. The median age of all farmers now is almost 60 and among livestock farmers it’s 70. We are entering an unprecedented time in American history when the land base will undergo a huge ownership shift. The problem is that 70% of all the equity in farmland is owned by people who have already done their life’s creative work. The young generation urgently needs to create opportunities on the existing land base without jeopardizing the mother ship, whether it’s an orchard, a cattle operation, a wheat farm or whatever.

The average farmer that wants to bring on the next generation wants to expand horizontally. We’ve got beef cattle, so we need more beef cattle and more land. We’ve got a dairy, we need more dairy cows and more land. As a result every farmer covets his neighbor’s field. If you realize, though, that your greatest potential return lies not in expanding horizontally, but expanding vertically, adding turkeys to chickens, or chickens to cows, or turkeys to orchard, or a wheat muffin delivery route to a wheat field. Suddenly we’re freed from coveting our neighbor’s land because none of us will ever scratch the surface on what we’ve already got.

F. SANDERS — One secrets of your model is that the farmer captures those other vertical profits that he’s lost for so long to marketers and distributors. He captures them by going directly to the consumer.

J. SALATIN — Right. I would simply call that “non-commodity marketing.” There is a commodity system that’s generic and doesn’t reward quality. All its standards set a very achievable minimum and it is huge enough to absorb or lose volume.

Then there’s a non-commodity system and that’s what we’re doing. The non-commodity system values personal excellence. Some people call it artisanal or direct marketing, but non-commodity strikes the very core of what we’re doing. We want to be more excellent , not just add more piles of stuff to the already distant pile. That mindset frees you from the rat race mindset, which pushes prices to the floor, and instead rewards excellence. Our culture presently attaches a stigma to farmers. If you are an A or B student you become a lawyer or doctor or engineer, but they pack the D or F students off to the farm where they dip their snuff and trip over the transmission in the front yard and talk hillbilly and take orders from people sitting in corporate boardrooms a thousand miles away who dictate what they must feed, whom they must borrow from, and whom they must sell to. To attract the best and brightest to farming, only the non-commodity model in production, marketing, and craftsmanship offers sufficient challenge and reward.

F. SANDERS — In the commodity model, you have to accept the market the way it is. In the non-commodity model, you create your own market. I noticed on your Polyface Farm website, www.polyfacefarms.com, that you promote the local bioregional food movement and marketing. I don’t know if you call it the clean food movement or the whole-food movement or the locally-grown food movement, but I object to calling it “organic” now because the government has set organic standards and now owns the word. That guarantees that “organics” principles have already degenerated and are not worth fooling with. Tell me about the whole food movement, folks like the Weston A. Price Foundation, www.westonaprice.org.

J. SALATIN — Oh, yes, I am speaking at their convention in November. Sally Fallon calls it Nourishing Traditions, I like to call it heritage foods but you can call it whatever you want to. The point is that every swing of the cultural pendulum always corrects. Whether it’s religious or economic, when ever the pendulum swings too far off center, it swings back in a correction. I mean that’s what perestroika was all about: communism finally collapsed of its own ineptitude. However, capitalism without a moral, ethical framework is no more noble than communism without a moral, ethical framework.

In the food movement that pendulum has swung farther and farther away from balance. Nature (God’s design) is screaming words that we see in italics, words like physteria, and listeria and E. coli and salmonella and other words we’d never heard of 20 years ago. This is God’s design screaming ENOUGH!

While the larger culture refuses to hear that cry, it awakens the souls of those who are looking for the narrow way. The broad way and the narrow way appear everywhere: in education, recreation, retirement, economy, household, entertainment. When the broad way becomes so offensive, this remnant begins dropping out and seeking the narrow way. I’ve been doing this several decades. Twenty years ago 70% of the people who came by our farm were nirvana-cosmic-new-age, but today 70% of them are conservative, Christian homeschoolers. The tipping point was government education that created a yearning for a narrow way. Once they tried homeschooling and found that rewarding, people began saying to themselves, “This opt out approach is so good, I wonder if there’s one for medicine, for food, for wellness.”

So I think that we are seeing now the next swing of that correcting pendulum as the culture exceeds reasonableness, people get fed up, and begin looking for alternatives.

F. SANDERS — So, the foreseeable future holds huge and growing demand for products from your kind of farm.

J. SALATIN — Exactly, it is growing exponentially, so that we can hardly hang on. What fascinates me is that many of our customers, especially in the metropolitan buying clubs, are organic supermarket dropouts. The alternative foods movement grew out of very Eastern, we’re-all-connected, holistic thinking, as opposed to a Western it’s-all-about-me approach. The goal of preserving a holistic, soul-based production model in its integrity from farm to plate has been tried through the CSA model and farmers’ markets have been a stab at it, but the organic supermarket has not been successful at that.

F. SANDERS — Since the federal government usurped setting organic standards the term has become a joke in my eyes. They can call a chicken “organic” if they give ten thousand of them a 10 foot by 10 foot area to run in outside the big “organic” chicken house.

J. SALATIN — That’s why we are getting so many customers. People go to Whole Foods and find out that those free-range organic eggs come from 10,000 birds in a house with a three-foot dirt apron around it and the doors are open about 2 days a month. They feel betrayed, and once you have betrayed your customer, they tend to not come back. We are seeing the Wall-street-ification of the organic movement. It’s creating incredible opportunities for people who are true blue pasture-based farmers who appreciate the animal—and who don’t walk around with a pocket reminder of how much market share we expect to get next year.

F. SANDERS — The biggest threat to your model is not product quality or healthfulness but agribusiness. Their corporations and organizations like the Farm Bureau are very powerful and they have built up their models on the corporate chemical agriculture model. Even though whole foods have only a sliver of market share so far, these organizations seem determined to kill them. We have been fighting for legalized raw milk in Tennessee for three years and we haven’t won yet. All these legal restrictions remind me of the article on your website, “Everything I want to do is illegal�”

J. SALATIN — Right, that’s a far greater danger than some disgruntled patron suing you. Far more likely is some bureaucrat showing up to tell you everything you’re doing is illegal.

Our response has to be creative, like the guy in Georgia during WWII. They had a quota where you could only sell so much because they needed things for the war effort. All the local people came and bought this fellow’s hogs and the government told him that he couldn’t sell but ten this year because they needed 90 for the war effort. He had this coon dog there. People would come in and want to buy a hog and he’d say, “I can’t sell my hogs.” Then they’d say, “Well I like to coon hunt, how about that dog?” “Oh, that dog’s not for sale.” Then he’d scratch his head and say, “He’s really a good dog, I don’t want to sell him, but I guess I’d take $100 for him.” They’d give him $100 and the dog would jump in their car and he’d say, “Wait a minute. You need some food for that dog. You can’t just take that dog with no food for it. Here, take this pig to feed that dog.” So they’d hop in their car, head down the road a bit, open the door, let the dog out and the dog would run home. He sold that dog 100 times.

Another example is a lady in Michigan who was harassed by the government about processing steers. Finally she found out that you can slaughter beef on your own property and process it. Now she rents a 10 x 10′ piece of land to her customers, shoots the steer and processes it there. She just makes an end run around the regulations. Legally, if you rent land, you are in control of it, more than the land owner is.

I am amazed at people’s creativity. The whole cow share program is another example. Granted, it’s very cumbersome, but it is a very clever way to make an end run around oppressive laws. We need to become Houdinis that the bureaucrats just can’t pin down.

We have three people here in Virginia that are now giving away their cheese. The government shut them down for selling cheese. So now they go to the farmer’s market, just like before, but now their big sign with prices has a big X through it and says “FREE” and they have a donation box for their small farmer’s anti-litigation campaign. The prices are there, you pick up your cheese and nothing’s for sale. They are now making twice as much as they used to and none of it’s taxable because it’s all donations. Three people here are doing this now.

A lady got shut down making cheese up in Minneapolis. She’s in Wisconsin and she’d go across the state line and sell in the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. They surrounded her…

F. SANDERS — And yelled, “Throw down your cheese and come out with your hands up!�”

J. SALATIN — Right… and she called the state of Wisconsin and asked them if there were any regulations for selling fish bait. They said, “No, there aren’t any.” She said if there were, what would be the requirements? They said that it’d need to be edible. So she now goes to the farmer’s market and sells fishbait Colby, fishbait Swiss, and so on. She’s been doing this and nobody can touch her.

We need to be sharing these stories. The food movement today is exactly where homeschooling was 20 years ago, when parents were being jailed for homeschooling. And that huge industrial academic educational establishment was just as daunting to those early innovators as Big Food appears today. We need to take a lesson from those early homeschoolers, and communicate and network. We need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” to be creative and make end runs around the system. We need to understand that we are in it for the long haul. Right now we are in the early stages, but if we continue producing the top quality product as Big Food endorses genetic engineering and irradiation and waxes worse and worse, it will simply create more demand until finally political power shifts to our side, just like the homeschool movement.

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I get so frustrated when I speak at a seminar and the first question is “But is it legal?” Who cares if it’s legal? If it’s right, do it. We’ve raised a culture of people who want to ask permission to scratch their nose. We need to examine what is right, then we do it. If somebody doesn’t like it we change it and refine it, we fight for it, but until we do what’s right, we haven’t created any movement to bring meaning into the culture. Jesus said “Do the truth.” We want to define the truth, systematize the truth, identify the truth, talk about the truth, we want to do everything about the truth except just do it.

Look, the government is out of money and can’t replace these retiring and elderly food inspectors, so if everybody would just go get started, we’d outnumber them. What can they do when you’ve got 100 people doing it and only 2 policemen? When somebody doesn’t like it, you will find out that they never fine you, they don’t throw you in jail they simply say, you can’t do this. When that happens, then you deal with it. And lots of time that doesn’t happen for a two to five years. By that time you have a nice nucleus of comrades who can write letters and go to a hearing and go to bat for you.

F. SANDERS — Do the truth, instead of merely speaking the truth. Joel, thank you very, very much for your time.