Podcast

Joel Salatin: How to Prepare for A Future Increasingly Defined By Localized Food & Energy

Monday, August 29, 2011, 3:43 PM

Joel Salatin, proprietor of Polyface Farms and highly-visible champion of sustainable farming, thinks modern humans have become so far removed from a natural connection to the food they eat that we no longer have a true understanding of what "normal" food is.

The rise of Big Ag and factory farming over the past century has conditioned us to treat food mechanically (as something to be recoded and retooled) vs. biologically. And we don't realize that for all our industrialization and optimization, we're actually getting less yield and less nutrition than natural-based processes can offer.

Whether we like it or not, the arrival of Peak Oil is going to force us to realize that our heavily-energy intensive practices can't continue at their current scale. And with world population still increasing exponentially, we'll need to find other, more sustainable ways of growing our food.

"What we view today as "normal," I argue, is simply not normal. Just think about if you wanted to go to town 120 years ago. If you wanted to go to town, you actually had to go out and hook up a horse. That horse had to eat something, which means you had to have a patch of grass somewhere to feed that horse, which meant you had to take care of some perennial in order to feed that horse in order to go to town. And so throughout history, you had these kinds of what I call ‘inherent boundaries,’ or brakes, on how much a single human could abuse the ecology. 

And today, during this period of cheap energy, we’ve been able to extricate ourselves from that entire umbilical, if you will, and just run willy-nilly as if there is no constraint or restraint. And now we are starting to see some of the outcome of that boundless, untied progression. And so the chances are, the way to bet, is that in the future we are going to see more food localization, we are going to see more energy localization, we are going to see more personal responsibility in ecological lifestyle decisions, because it's going to be forced on us to survive economically. We are going to have to start taking some accounting of these ecological principles."

Joel, his family, and the team at Polyface Farms dedicate themselves to developing environmentally, emotionally, and economically-enhanced food prototypes and advocate for duplicating their production around the world. 

In this interview, Chris and Joel explore what constitutes truly sustainable agriculture and the reasons why our current system has departed so far from it, as well as practical steps individuals can take to increase their own personal resiliency around the food they eat (in short: "find your kitchen," source your food locally, and grow some yourself).

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Joel Salatin (runtime 44m:15s):

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Or click here to read the full transcript. 


Joel Salatin is one of the most visible and influential leaders in the organic food and sustainable farming movement. His family owns and manages Polyface Farms, which has been featured prominently in such modern food movement works as The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and the film documentary Food, Inc. Joel’s unconventional but highly innovative farming practices are inspiring millions to increase their nutritional and community resiliency by seeking out local sources of chemical-free food raised using natural process-based farming practices. These practices have been documented in the many books he has authored, including You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise (1998), The Sheer Ecstacy of Being a Lunatic Farmer (2010), and the upcoming Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World (available for pre-order).


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74 Comments

Locavorous's picture
Locavorous
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Poultry Butchering: build yourself a 'tub plucker'!

I started using 'Salatin style' pens for broilers 5 years ago, right after I finished "Omnivore's Dilemma". Before that, I've raised them in static pens.

We butcher them anywhere betwixt 8-16 weeks old, to reach a carcass weight of 4.5-10 (!) lbs. A 10 lb chicken has a higher meat:waste ration (I believe), so if your feed inputs are cheap enough, or your food conversion ratio (FCR) is low enough, or both, it may be cost effective to raise CRX to this weight.

But I don't care, because I love giant chickens! I can feed my family all week on one 10 lb bird. Roasted, salad, sandwiches, soup & stock...Forrest Gump's shrimp company ain't got nothing on us!

I used to hand pluck, and that was fine, then I built a Whizbang Chicken Plucker from a plan book and parts kit I bought from another radical, religious fella (that's a joke, son) over at http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.co... . With the plucker, I saw that I could now scale up, so I can sell the surplus to reduce my per unit cost. (Which is my main goal on the homestead, and my definition of a 'farm': grow enough to feed the folks that work, with a surplus to sell for cash or barter.)

After I learned a couple magic numbers for a good scald,  and started using shears*, I can process about a dozen birds an hour. I've outlined my "butchering by the steps" below, but there're tons of online resources for the Show Me State crowd ;)...

Magic numbers: Scald your birds at exactly 145 F, for exactly 90 seconds, dunking to get water in among the feathers. When you can easily pull the wing primaries out, the bird is ready to pluck. Look for skin coming off as a symptom of too hot/too long a scald.

By the steps:

   1. hang the birds upside down and slit throats, saving the blood which will congeal quickly. Dry this as a garden amendment.
   2. scald by the numbers: Scald your birds at exactly 145 F, for exactly 90 seconds, dunking to get water in among the feathers. When you can easily pull the wing primaries out, the bird is ready to pluck. Look for skin coming off as a symptom of too hot/too long a scald.
   3. pluck birds. I run them for a minute at a time, spraying a bit of cold water in the plucker. My plucker gets most feathers off the first time if the scald is correct. sometimes the armpits need a bit of manual pluckin'.
   4. Eviscerate: USE SHEARS* to cut off legs and head, put in your stock pot bucket for later cookin'. carefully trim around anus (don't nick and get poop on the meat) and pull slightly out with the intestine attached. Slit skin at neck, then cut neck off as far down as you can. You can rip it off, actually. Then loosen crop and esophagus. Reach into gut cavity, enlarging hole as necessary. Reach way up and get the heart, wiggle your fingers to get the lungs if you're good, and pull all out. Trim away the organs you want and put liver, heart in a bowl of ice water. Gizzards are excellent stewed in Italian dressing. Yeah buddy.
   5. QC: squirt with a hose, especially around the lungs. You'll want to get the bird in the ice bath ASAP, so you may want to wait to pull pin feathers etc until after its chilled, and you move your operation to the kitchen.
   6. Weigh & Bag: AFter they're chilled, I take them to the kitchen. We do a final check, pat dry, put in a poultry bag I get from a butcher, and weigh. We tag them according to weight and quality (sometimes damage occurs during plucking), then either put them on ice, the fridge or double bag them for the freezer. You can submerge a bagged chicken to push the air out.
   7. Aging: the consensus seems to be that a bird's tenderness improves with up to 3 days of aging uncovered in the fridge. I use this for all poultry, especially game birds. I try to encourage air flow in the carcass by putting the bird on a roasting rack in a pan to catch the drips. Sooo dang tasty.
   8. Cooking: nothing beats a rub with a lime (then throw it inside the cavity), a shake of garlic salt (we make our own) and  a squirt of olive oil.

* Shears: I grew up hunting and fishing. I've been carrying a pocket knife since I was in 6th grade. Our family reunions always included the 'knife hand around', where a young man's credibility was marked by the sturdiness, practicality but especially the sharpness of the knife he carried. I love knives, love to use them and collect them. Butchering chickens, IMO is not the right job for this tool. Sharp shears are safer, faster, more precise, and less likely to cause punctures to intestines, which may result in contaminated meat. And, if you are working fast, and have a lot of birds, you WILL nick yourself. Then you've got an open wound coated with chicken guts and fat. So, invest in good shears, and learn to sharpen them.

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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which bird

Which Bird do you like to raise / butcher ?    Where have you found the best place to order the chicks ? Have done the cost per pound

We are finding we are not so keen on the darker meat and pin feathers and would like to stay with a white bird if possible .

FM

Locavorous's picture
Locavorous
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For fast meat, Cornish Rock Crosses (CRX)

I've raised CRX, 'colored broilers' (aka "freedom rangers"** etc.), cockerals from laying breeds, and 'dual purpose' breeds. I figure it takes about 20 lbs of feed to grow a 5 lb bird (FCR=4.0). So, to grow 100 birds, you'll need up to a ton of feed. At $.40/lb for 'non corn-soy-gmo, organic feed', delivered to my farm, that's only $2.00 per 5 lb bird, plus the, say, $2.00 for each chick. I think that's a decent deal for some dang good chicken meat! Of course, you can buy bulk feed that's not 'non' anything, for about $.11/lb out here in western WA. GIGO, tho...

By far, the best bird for meat is the CRX. Some local growers get on their high horse about 'inhumane breeds', which is pure marketing poppycock. Humane is in the treatment of the birds, the life they lead up until butcher day, and is a cornerstone of the Salatin model: let them express their 'chickenness'.

I introduce greens and grit at a very early age, and put them in pasture at about 3-4 weeks old, depending on conditions.

i try and find a local hatchery to buy from, and usually your local feed stores have the best handle on who that may be. But, I've used Murray McMurray most of all, and have no issues. Actually, if you don't mind the little extra price, its a good thing to buy from the local feedstore: you're supporting an important local biz, and if you buy 3-6 day olds, you've let the store experience the usual mortality from shipping. You can pick the strongest looking birdies out of a huge, fuzzy peeping mass of chicks!

I've heard of a hatchery or two who are working on a CRX strain that are 'better foragers'. I don't know how they're doing with that.

** "freedom rangers" is the US jingoistic term describing "red French broilers", which in France are exclusively grown for their pastured, "Lable Rouge" certification. I think they suck compared to CRX; they're harder to pluck, take longer to get to weight, are 'tougher', and forage no better than my CRX. In other words, it takes just as much work and feed inputs to get a slower, skinnier, tougher bird. No thanks!

And by the way, I still eat French Fries, French Toast and French Bread...

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scribe
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Let's not have creationists as guests

Moderator Jason wrote:
It is true that drawing attention to the beliefs of a speaker is not necessarily an attack ad hominem.

Of course it's not an ad hom! The interview is about the man and his views, so bringing in his (hidden) views is on topic.

In any other reader's shoes, I would be very grateful to someone who pointed out to me that an author and guest speaker is a Creationist. It would instantly color my perceptions of the person, as it should. Unless CM.com is keen on interviewing people like this?

I suspect CM himself did not know about the fringe personal beliefs of Salatin. Now, thanks to me, he does. CM is a highly educated man who would have no sympathy for Creationists.

Conclusion: More careful vetting of guests is required.

This does not mean I am "raising religion" and deserve to be banned. Creationism is a denial of science, not a religion. We should not ask people who deny science for advice about farming, because at their core they are anti-scientific. So while Salatin may have chanced upon some good concepts, how sound are they, really? How can we be sure they are correct? Are the ideas originally his? (I see claims on the web to the contrary) And why are his books filled with Libertarian political rantings, rather than farming concepts? Interviews like this are meant to promote books, as this interview did, and we should all be warned about the content of his books before buying.

Threatening me with banning is absurd. If this site cannot tolerate debate, I'd rather not be part of it anyway.

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isildur22
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Re: Let's not have creationists as guests

Creationism is certainly not a fringe personal belief in the U.S.  According to recent Gallup polls, around 40% of Americans adhere to a form of it http://www.gallup.com/poll/27847/Majority-Republicans-Doubt-Theory-Evolution.aspx

Now, I'm an atheist and a plant geneticist to boot, so I most likely cleave more to your personal beliefs than Mr. Salatin's, but can't a man have good things to say about farming and yet be a creationist at the same time?  I don't like his stance against GMOs either  (shared by many participants on these sites, for some reason), but clearly he's got  valuable knowledge and experience on other aspects of farming.  There's no need to police the personal beliefs of guests.  The open marketplace of ideas makes life interesting. 

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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mine's bigger than yours!

Locavorous wrote:

But I don't care, because I love giant chickens! I can feed my family all week on one 10 lb bird. Roasted, salad, sandwiches, soup & stock...Forrest Gump's shrimp company ain't got nothing on us!

Without a word of a lie, I raised a 7.5kg chicken here last year (meat chicken breed) which is over 15 pounds. And yes, we fed off it all week.....!

Mike

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Scribe, Creationism does not

Scribe,

Creationism does not necessarily deny science.

For example, the Catholic Church position (Wikipedia) " is an example of theistic evolution, also known as evolutionary creation, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a special creation, and that the existence of God is required to explain both monogenism and the spiritual component of human origins. Moreover, the Church teaches that the process of evolution is a planned and purpose-driven natural process, actively guided by God."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution

We should not ask people who deny science for advice about farming, because at their core they are anti-scientific.

If you do this, you will marginalize a large portion of the contributing population who can contribute positively to help society adapt to our current predicament. Your views are the equivalent of "belief apartheid", and are akin to what the position the MSM took in the period leading up to the housing crisis. It is vitally important to hear all sides of a story, and not just the views that fit into ones own view of the world.

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Moderator Jason
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Re: Creationism

It is virtually impossible to have a debate about creationism without involving religion.  We will not have that debate on this thread, because sooner or later somebody will lose their self-control and the thread will degenerate into a hostile name-calling match.  Religion and creationism are sensitive "hot button" topics for many people.  Incidentally, they also have little to do with localized food and energy, which was the topic of the interview.

Nobody is threatening anybody with banning.  I say that because I am confident that you (and all other users) will not continue to debate creationism or the personal political or religious beliefs of the interview guest on this thread.

Let me make that clear: no further posts on this subject, by anybody.  Nor will I further publicly debate this.  This is a warning.

As always, feel free to contact me by email with questions or comments.

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Vanityfox451
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Food Inc (2008) Documentary ...

To get this thread back on topic, I found a copy of the film Food Inc on You Tube, which stars Joel Salatin doing what he does best. Without this community, I wouldn't have gained the benefit of his wisdom ...

Wikipedia Review

Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner. The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.

The film's first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second segment looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables (primarily corn and soy beans), again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film's third and final segment is about the economic and legal power, such as food label laws, of the major food companies the profits of which are based on supplying cheap but contaminated food, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals (largely pesticides and fertilizers), and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public.

Official Food Inc Website Link

I also recommend a severely conscience bashing book that lifted the lid on the fast food industry back in 2001 : -

Fast Food Nation ~ by Erich Schlosser [Link to first chapter]

Independent review at Amazon.com

I picked up this book the moment I saw it mostly because I've always known that fast food is "bad for you" - but I've been both afraid to know why and curious at the same time. After all, I've been hearing the other side of the argument my whole life. I've been pummeled by fast food ads - and eaten plenty of fast food - for a ridiculously long time. Why do I want to stay ignorant about it?

Those of you expecting an update on John Robbins' "Diet For A New America" will be disappointed. Schlosser has not crafted a scientific slam against fast food joints, but rather a thorough examination of their motives and histories, with a strong emphasis on the people - from both sides of the coin. The time he devotes to the personal stories of those whose lives have been forever changed by fast food - from the rags-to-riches tale of Carl Karcher to the tragic story of a big-hearted rancher named Hank - are largely what keeps "Fast Food Nation" both emotionally provoking and tangible throughout.

If this book were merely a saber-toothed diatribe against fast food corporations, it couldn't allow itself such concessions and would probably come across as socialist tubthumping to all but the converted. Instead, lengthy establishing essays on the history, ideologies, and present state of the communities and corporations discussed are a welcome introduction (and counterpoint to) the individual stories of struggle, greed, and survival.

While he makes no secret where his sympathies lie, Schlosser often reminded me more of Wendell Berry than John Robbins, as he bravely attempts to "tell it like it is" from more of a "pro-human" as opposed to an "anti-corporate" perspective. In doing so, the dehumanizing aspects of all global corporations (and the effects of NAFTA and the Telecommunications Act of '96) are supplied a provoking reference point.

By my standards, "Fast Food Nation" is a fine debut accomplishment for the author and a welcome book for our increasingly homogenized (and de-regulated) times. The story of fast food, a quotidian experience for many, has never seemed quite so impressive, scary, and profound. My education began here.

In his introduction to "Fast Food Nation", Schlosser says that he's interested in fast food "both as commodity and metaphor", and indeed, this well-written tome is as much an examination on the titular product as an able primer on the encroachment of large corporations into the lives of working Americans.

An interview with Eric Schlosser : -

Paul

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Vanityfox451
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The Jungle ~ by Upton Sinclair

If you assume that a book published in 1906 isn't valid today, think again. I happened to find a copy in PDF that can be read on line or downloaded, though I suggest you gain a copy as I did, that has so far been leant out about five times in the past 6 months : -

The Jungle ~ by Upton Sinclair [PDF Link]

Independent Review at Amazon.com

Published in 1906, this book is famous for exposing the unsanitary and disgusting practices of the meat processing industry in Chicago. I chose to read the original uncensored edition because I didn't want a whitewashed version. I was not disappointed. I got it all, in all its grisly details. Processed meat and sausages included diseased animal meat, rats, the filth on the floor and even the bodies of human workers who got sucked into the lard vats. Yes, these abuses were shocking and resulted in reform and new standards for the industry, but that was only one aspect of the book.

Central to the story is the plight of the workers and, indeed, that was Upton Sinclair's purpose as he went to Chicago on a stipend from a socialist newspaper to expose the exploitation of the factory workers. That is the central theme of the book and I found myself wincing throughout, not only because of the tubercular beef being sold to the public, but mostly because of the degradation of the human beings who were just cogs in the wheels of production.

The story is about a family of Lithuanian immigrants who came to America for a better life. From the very beginning, they were cheated. They were sold a substandard house and never told about the extra taxes, fees and clauses that would cause them to lose the house if they were late with their payments. They had to to walk several miles to work in the stockyards in the dead of winter with inadequate clothing. Children were forced to work too and one little boy lost some fingers from frostbite. Their wages didn't meet their needs and there were times there was no food at all. They could never afford doctors or medicine and if a member of a family was sick or injured that person lost his or her job.

I'll never forget the characters in the book. Ona and Jurgis are a young married couple who we meet at their wedding in the beginning of the book. They are young and they have hope. Jurgis is big and strong and easily gets a job. At first all seems well. But as the book progresses, we see how everyone in the family has no choice but to work. This includes the elderly father and the children. Later, when Jurgis hurts his foot in an accident, he is out of work for months and the family suffers. But even more horror is in store of the family. Mainly, we follow what happens to Jurgis as he loses his job, and circumstances spiral out of control. I felt real emotion for him and his family, amazed at out anyone could endure the hardships they had to face. Eventually the book winds up as the writer wanted it, with anger at the exploitation of the workers.

I loved this book. I read it all at once, starting it at three o'clock one afternoon and reading through most of the night until I finished it. I identified with each of the characters and was amazed at their forbearance and strength through all their adversity. Of course I had heard about these horrible conditions throughout my lifetime. But I never realized how bad they really were. This book opened my eyes. I don't know if I will ever be the same again.

I give this book my highest recommendation. It's not only a great story with great characters, it's a plea for social justice. And its impact can still be felt today.

Paul

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Full Moon
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  Paul ,     WHEW   My

Paul , 

  WHEW   My first thought was  does this guy know what battle he is in for ?  Then my mind went to can I even imagine  how many people will go hungry or starve without fast food??      I would challange everyone to just write down what food you buy instead of growing yourself .    It is a a full time job to grow your own veggies , fruit , grains, milk, cheese, meat .   I am serious  I do not think most ppl are ready to even consider such a thing.   There needs to be a book about what it takes  from the seed to the table .

  Yes Sir , I think facing the fact  of where your food comes from is amazing .     I consider my family and what amounts of food it takes to keep everyone  fed  in the back of my mind .. how many peach trees does it take ,  do I have enough  pecan trees planted ,  what if we have a bad year of tomato or bean crop. What if the popcorn crop fails !!!      It is enough to blow my mind at times .    Oats  how much oats to feed the family and the animals .   Can we catch enough fish ,   will butchering one cow be enough ? 

I am serious I still have to go to the store and buy some things .  Thankfully I have a basement full  because I am not totally set up for self suffiecency  even yet .  

I do not sell one thing off this place that can be traced .  NOT even a jar of walnut tincture  or dozen eggs !  You pay cash  you do not get it .   I have gotten 3 letters from the Govt. wanting info on my hog operation  .. I do not know if this comes from selling a couple pigs at the 4-H fair a few years ago or if it  is because I took some to the locker to be butchered instead of doing it here at home .

In return I only pay cash  for the neighbors milk  or trade them  back in yogurt or cheese .   

THIS IS ALL A FULL TIME JOB I KID YOU NOT !   I am willing to bet there is no way many people are going to be able to do it .  I REALLY NEED TO GET THIS GENTLEMEN'S  BOOK  because I do not see convience foods going away until they are forced too .  I see people selling out to the beast first .

ALL this is not to say that I do not agree with what he said in the video as true ... I just don't see how there is going to be big change .  Japan can  not feed itself at all .   I planted rice in their fields .. I bought raw milk from their dairy  ... They ship in major percentage of their food even to feed the cows . .       I am rattling on  sorry ... I am afraid for many people   ... How many do you know that will not eat a carrot ??

Anyway thank you for bringing up these subjects so tha I do not become complacent  as well .

Off to town to get the durn hunting liecense for the kiddos .. can't even go Dove hunting without the Govt  wanting in on the action .  And you HAVE to give them your Soc.SEC. Number on that paper .. great ; (

FM 

FM 

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Vanityfox451
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The Party's Over ~ by Richard Heinberg ~ Full PDF Copy ...

Hi FM,

I hope that I have persuaded you to read Eric Schlossers book Fast Food Nation some time in the future. It is a wonderful tombe, deserving its place on your bookshelf as much as my copy does, when it isn't being lent out for the umpteenth time. It has some good stock reference in it worthy of going back to again and again.

What I would offer, as an aside for now, is reading Richard Heinbergs book The Party's Over. I've just been lucky enough to find a full copy of it online in PDF that you could down load, so here's a link to it. I suggest you scroll down to chapter three and read the full chapter in its entirety. I suggest also that this will give good grounding as to what kind of population size will be expected in the United States within the next fifty years, God willing that some moron doesn't choose to push the red button if you get my meaning?

With so many fossil fuel inputs to modern agricutlure, and the fact that for every bushel grown in ohio causes three bushels worth of permanent soil errosion, I don't see much soil standard remaining to recreate the kind of population that was here before fossil fuel. Back before the 1850's the US had a population more often dedicating over three quarters of their lives in growing food. They had many generations of dedicated toilers who passed their knowledge down from father to son and mother to daughter down through the ages. This past three generations have pretty much lost all of that knowledge to living in cities, by use of the models created through the Green Revolution of the 1950's.

Even if many millions of people take to the land and away from the cities expecting a pocket of land and a few seeds will save them, it is going to take many many years to get the land back up to a standard that the soil will give anything like a good yield.

In other words, what with so many pests that have become immune to fossil fuel chemical pesticides, the future is bleak enough with fossil fuel input. Without it I suggest a chalamity is in order.

Yes, with all certainty in my mind, a great many people aren't going to make it, no matter how hard they try.

I have no pleasure in writing this, you can be sure ...

Paul

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Full Moon
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thank you Paul

   Maybe caught me on a bad day .... I  can  just see people getting very ugly when they can't afford to buy that snickers bar  or potato chip .      When it is taking me so much time and energy to  make say ...pickle relish  ..  You have got to think way ahead  making the vinegar , growing the onion ,cucs, peppers , spices  .. I had to buy sugar  and salt ..My  bees ran off so I could not use honey and  I have no clue what we would do without salt ??

  Even grinding and canning it takes more than a day to have it ready on the shelf .  Almost  every single thing we stick in our mouth  is very labor / fuel intensive.  And the mess to clean up !!  

Yes,Sir, hope to get some reading time in soon .    Bushels of tomatoes, beans , and elderberries  screaming at me to get them into jars for the next few days .

Yes I can see that the grass feed animals may be the easiest food of all  BUT  even then  you are not going to have beef for two to three years   and  if you do not have a broody hen you better have  someone with a good incubator.  The neighbor kids did hatch some in the attic this summer  as it was warm enough ..  Here is an experiment  for you all .   

  I had better get back at it  .. just tired is all . Too many people fighting over piddly things all the while they are looking to the Govt. to  come up with the answers . 

K  got to get the hubby a lunch so he can  go run a train ..  Egg Salad sandwich with pickle relish , right .

FM 

I am very suspisious that the county went up and down the roads spraying chemicals on the plum thickets .. They look burnt  .   Maybe they are trying to keep people from  even feeding themselves on natural fruits .

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earthwise
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Let's not have bigots as posters.

scribe wrote:

The interview is about the man and his views, so bringing in his (hidden) views is on topic.

No, you are wrong. The interview is about the man's views on farming.  He could be a flat earther as far as I'm concerned as long as his farming info is valid and productive (which is abundantly clear). His personal, political, religious, views as well as his race, marital status, sexual preference etc. are irrelevant.

scribe wrote:

In any other reader's shoes, I would be very grateful to someone who pointed out to me that an author and guest speaker is a Creationist. It would instantly color my perceptions of the person, as it should.

I am not grateful. In fact I am repulsed by your bigotry.

scribe wrote:

I suspect CM himself did not know about the fringe personal beliefs of Salatin. Now, thanks to me, he does. CM is a highly educated man who would have no sympathy for Creationists.

Yeah, what would Chris do without you.

scribe wrote:

So while Salatin may have chanced upon some good concepts, how sound are they, really? How can we be sure they are correct?

Because they are proven, repeatedly so. In spades.

scribe wrote:

Are the ideas originally his?

No, and he states so if you bothered to check. He repeatedly gives credit to natural processes as  originator; it's a constant theme: to imitate nature. And ultimately it doesn't matter who thought of them as long as they work, which they do.

scribe wrote:

And why are his books filled with Libertarian political rantings, rather than farming concepts?

Because our distorted and dysfunctional farming "industry" is a product of government manipulation that interferes with the farming concepts that he has found to be the most effective, efficient and productive.

scribe wrote:

Interviews like this are meant to promote books, as this interview did, and we should all be warned about the content of his books before buying.

Yeah, we're so helpless that we need someone like you to protect us from ourselves and evil religious folks like Salatin. What would we do without you? I hope to find out.

scribe wrote:

.......... I'd rather not be part of it anyway.

One can only hope.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Care to elaborate?

isildur22 wrote:

Now, I'm an atheist and a plant geneticist to boot, so I most likely cleave more to your personal beliefs than Mr. Salatin's, but can't a man have good things to say about farming and yet be a creationist at the same time?  I don't like his stance against GMOs either  (shared by many participants on these sites, for some reason), but clearly he's got  valuable knowledge and experience on other aspects of farming.  There's no need to police the personal beliefs of guests.  The open marketplace of ideas makes life interesting. 

isildur - If it hasn't already been said, welcome to CM.com.

At the risk of stirring up emotional debate could/would you provide some amplifying info on why you and Salatin (and many others) have differenig viewpoints on GMO crops?

FWIW, I don't know what I don't know, but I am leaning towards the benevolent neglect side of the argument.  It seems to me that genetically modifying an organism to boost crop yield and increase resistance to insects and/or disease is generally a "good" thing.  But then there is the whole specter of the 'kill gene'.  You can't help but wonder if the studies to support conclusions that it is "safe" have been allowed to fully run their course. At the same time, the arguments that they "aren't safe" are probably based more on emotion than science and haven't received sufficient academic scrutiny and rigor either.  I could be wrong.

The arguments that they contain recombinant DNA retroviruses for an engineered die-off so the lizard bankers can take over the world generates little more than an eye roll and passing interest. 

Any expert insight or info you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

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maceves
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Monsanto policies

Not an expert here, but I'll jump in--- 

One thing a lot of people object to is the way Monsanto treats competition of any type.

If pollen from a Monsanto field  blows into your non-GMO field, they they can and will take you to court for propogating unlicensed GMO seeds.  That is soooo underhanded and has been the ruin of many traditional farmers.

Then there is the secrecy,  and the buying out of patents from small researchers.  thepoisoning of the soil with Round Up, which of course they also make.  There's the lobbying and manipulation of government controls to their advantage.

If you want fertile soil, you can't go that route.

My best guess is that in the future we will have to have both. Intensive, nutured  fields and crops and factory farms both.

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isildur22
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I grew up on a farm in Iowa

I grew up on a farm in Iowa and helped my dad with the corn and soybean fields, and I have a Ph.D. in genetics from UW-Madison. so I do have great interest in this issue.  I don't have much time during weekdays, but I'll put together a primer this weekend.

Farmers choose to buy Monsanto's products because if they do their yields are larger and the total amount of chemicals that they need to spray on their fields to achieve those yields is less.  Farmers are not stupid-- they still have fertile soil after years of using Round-up.  People love to talk about what farmers should be doing, however, and I bet that won't change

Glyphosate (Round-up) is actually one of the least injurious herbicides ever produced, and disappears really quickly (days) when it gets to the soil, degrading into carbon dioxide and nitrogen.  It's really a miracle herbicide, and unfortunately it won't be useful indefinitely because weeds are already evolving resistance to it.  .

The patent issue is a real problem, and in my opinion our strict patent laws slow down progress and should be reformed. The ability to patent natural genes is quite scary in general, and really stupid policy too, but thankfully it appears that the lawmakers are coming around.   However it's a problem in every technological industry.  Google is buying up companies and their patents left and right.  A reform bill was recently passed (the America Invents Act) but I haven't yet looked into how it will affect the situation.

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ao
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wo is P

isildur22 wrote:

Glyphosate (Round-up) is actually one of the least injurious herbicides ever produced, and disappears really quickly (days) when it gets to the soil, degrading into carbon dioxide and nitrogen.  It's really a miracle herbicide, and unfortunately it won't be useful indefinitely because weeds are already evolving resistance to it.  .

What happens to the phosphorus atom?

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Vanityfox451
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The World According to Monsanto

ao wrote:

isildur22 wrote:

Glyphosate (Round-up) is actually one of the least injurious herbicides ever produced, and disappears really quickly (days) when it gets to the soil, degrading into carbon dioxide and nitrogen.  It's really a miracle herbicide, and unfortunately it won't be useful indefinitely because weeds are already evolving resistance to it.  .

What happens to the phosphorus atom?

Nice point ao.

You've reminded me of a recent news item back in December by Democracy Now! It lays sway to the tip of the iceberg on the colossus that is Mount Monsanto : -

Let it also be said that there are plenty of creditable hits to be found over the formidable nature of the actions that Monsanto has taken over the control of global food supply simply by doing a Google search. The last count was 16,800,000.

More importantly for this community though, is the destruction of small scale farming right across the United States. This documentary below should nail home any doubts, though it still leaves the issue of quite how upward of 9.3 billion people are supposed to be fed by 2050 - this, and of course against diminishing global fossil fuel supply : -

The World According to Monsanto

Paul

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isildur22
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FLUORIDATION, for Pete’s sake?

You actually get 0 points for that, ao. Glyphosate degrades to aminomethylphosphonic acid and then to phosphoric acid/phosphate.  That’s inorganic phosphate. It’s the form required by plants as a fertilizer.

Here’s the link to one of the papers that shows that degradation sequence but unless you’re at a university (or have a subscription to Soil Biology and Biochemistry…) you’ll have to buy it or PM me your email address and I’ll send the pdf to you.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071799000103

But here’s a summary paragraph: "During recent years an intensive use of herbicides has raised increasing concern mainly due to their massive pollution of the environment. To address this problem, the herbicide glyphosate (N-[phosphono-methyl]glycine) might be very promising. It acts by interfering with the enzyme that catalyses the sixth step in the shikimate pathway, 5-enol-pyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase (Cole, 1985), has little or no chronic and neuro-toxic effects, and no obvious carcinogenic and mutagenic activity as well, and is thus to be considered ineffective against man and animals (Atkinson, 1985). Moreover, even though the rate of utilization has been reported to vary considerably between different soils, it is rapidly and completely degraded by soil microorganisms to water, carbon dioxide and phosphate. Following adsorption through the phosphoric acid moiety, mineralization proceeds without any lag phase, and seems to be a co-metabolic process that occurs under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions (Torstensson, 1985). The first step in the predominant degradation pathway is the cleavage to glyoxylate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), that is also biologically degradable (Rueppel et al., 1977).

Here's a paper free to access that talks about environmental effects

http://co.water.usgs.gov/midconherb/pdf/WREB_4102_323-332.pdf

Some notable points from it:  “Although glyphosate and (or) AMPA were found in many samples, other herbicides with similar or less total use in the Midwestern United States, such as acetochlor, atrazine, and metolachlor (Figure 1), were often detected more frequently and at higher concentrations (Table 2, Figures 3 and 4). It is probable that glyphosate is not as mobile and is transformed more rapidly in the environment than these other herbicides (Table 1)."

“Glyphosate is considered to be only slightly toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates and is not expected to bioconcentrate.”

“It is widely used in no-till agriculture to prepare fields for planting, controlling weeds during crop development, or controlling perennial weeds after crop harvest.”

The bottom line is that it’s much less harmful and found at much lower concentrations than the other, toxic herbicides that are used the same amount or less.

You don’t like corporations and you don’t like herbicides, and neither does Amy Goodman.  I get it.  Well, we can get rid of all the herbicides and the biotech companies altogether to make some people feel better about farms.  But if you want to keep family farmers on their land, then until all the poor folks in the U.S. get to shop at Whole Foods like you do we’re going to have to keep using them.  Why not use the least harmful while we can?

Due to low grain prices in the early ‘90s, my dad sold our machinery, got a job with the USDA (fortunately he had a MA in education which enabled this) and now rents out the fields, although he still lives on the farm.  Today, thanks to yield increases due to this and other genetic modification technologies, added to global economic trends and possibly some early climate change effects causing crop failures abroad (as well as some admittedly misguided grain-for-ethanol mandates), family farmers can actually make a fairly good living. Too late for many of us, however.

Quite finally, searching  with keywords to get back to this thread, I now see that people have defended real farmers, glyphosate, et cetera many times over the years.  I guess now I’m wondering how much time I should devote to trying to disabuse an anti-science crowd of their Greenpeace notions. (I mean, fluoridation for Pete’s sake?  Since when did the John Birch Society start tricking liberals?) 

I think it will be not a minute more.

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Vanityfox451
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Posts: 1636
The Crash Course ~ Chapter's 17 - A) - B) & C) ...

Isildur22,

I think you're lumping an entire set of people who are diverse and of many perspectives, into a model that best fits your bias. That is O.K. My world will not end because of this, and neither will yours. However, there is a hope in me that looking into alternate perspectives might colour your own.

From a logical perspective then, it isn't a case that - I or anyone else here - can corrupt you, but to aid you in seeing that there are more than two ways to go about your task of teaching the unenlightened enough details for them to go away and find out for themselves.

I am in no doubt to the personally financial - and to the human benefit to a growing population of humanity - to the value of their survival or famine through modern mechanical and fossil fuel produced crop; or indeed the genetic modification of these crops to create greater abundance. However, what with the state of our soon to be obvious global energy constraint emerging far too quickly on the horizon, I must insist you pay more attention to what the outcome is in the long-term of modern agricultural method since the advent of the green revolution in the 1950's, if the descent of this vital input continues its unstoppable decline.

It is all well and good to talk of such things as modern agricultural method to alay fears in the present, but what is the model of production going to be in the near future, with such price-spikes in fertilizer (natural gas input) of 2008 and 2009 set to continue?

This isn't a site that wishes to destroy any attempts to prove the benefit of modernity, even if certain types of informed - or disinformed - post ( as is their right in regard to imparciality) on an open public forum. It does not mean that it is the majority of the forum' opinion that flouridation, the John Birch Society, or even Greenpeace are all our bed-fellows.

As yet again I've taken to reply to one of your posts, I'm curious as to whether you have watched through the Crash Course, which is the glue that holds this forum together.

Below are chapters 17 a) b) and c), ripped from You Tube in regard to Peak Oil. However, a greater standard of polish to this series can be found if you go to the top left hand corner of the Home Page to here : -

Paul

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