Regulation

Farmer Joel Salatin Steals the Title of Your Memoir

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you're under arrest!

Joel Salatin has beaten us all to one of the greatest titles ever for a memoir. But Salatin's version of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal isn't about the joys of drugs, or deviant sexual practices, or even tax evasion (alas). Instead, it's about being a small farmer in America. 

Salatin's disdain for government bleeds into his dislike for big companies. (To be fair, sometimes it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends, especially in the food industry.) But unlike many other advocates of organic and local foods, he knows where to draw the line. As he says in an interview this month with The Portland Mercury: "I'm not saying we should outlaw industrial food. What I am saying is that we should have a freedom of choice option for those who want to opt out. If you want to live on Fritos and coca-cola, that suits me just fine."

The rest of the interview is full of Salatin's off-kilter views as a self-proclaimed "Christian-conservative-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic." Enjoy!

What are the biggest barriers [food safety bill H.R. 875, currently in consideration in the US Senate] presents for farmers?

The biggest one, in my opinion, is a provision to give the FDA unprecedented power to make warrantless searches on any American farm to determine if practices are "science based."

"Science based" is a very subjective term. I think that what we do is science based but the USDA, [he pronounces it U.S. "duh"] does not believe that what we do is science based. When they say "science based" they're talking about drugs, and vaccines, and pharmaceuticals, and cloning, and a host of other things. That's science based.

Again, this is a perfect example of the pushback as our system gains credibility and acceptance in the marketplace. This is an example of our industrial food system manipulating our lawmakers and the USDA to keep us on the fringes—to basically put this heritage food "in the teepees," if you will, so it can't continue to erode market share. It's not about food safety, it's about controlling market access.

Here's another good bit:

What's interesting to me, is that in order to have consistent political philosophy on [freedom on choice], then we need to stop our War on Drugs. It's not reasonable to say, "Give me the freedom to drink raw milk," when all of the public health experts say that it's not a safe thing, and then tell them, "I don't want people to be able to take cocaine or marijuana if they want to take it." And I'm a pretty conservative religious-righter. Boy it's an amazing thing when I tell my buddies that they have to give up the War on Drugs. But if we give it up and gain food freedom, it would be a great trade-off. The fact is, when the government gets between my mouth and my stomach, that's a pretty intrusive government. The only reason our founding fathers did not give us the right to food freedom, is because they could not have foreseen the day when a neighbor could not get a t-bone steak or a glass of raw milk from a neighbor.

When I spoke with Salatin last year, he gave me a list of three illegal products he'd like to sell to you—farm stand jam, custom slaughtered meat, and raw milk.

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  1. One of farmers’ markets around here carries stuff from Polyface Farm. I’m’a have to get some.

  2. I like this guy.

    People are much more interesting when they don’t have to be labeled, or rather, if the label can be batshit specific.

  3. The great thing about Joel Salatin is that his adoration by the normally left leaning granola crowd makes his anti government message so much more palatable for them.

  4. Oh, and let us know when that memoir on deviant sexual practices comes out Katherine.

  5. Thank God there are a few sane people left out there to call bullshit on all the bullshitters. Mr. Salatin is one of them. A independent minded farmer, a fucking rarity in America.

  6. Hey SIV – Salatin is +1 to you in the argument we had the other day.

  7. Would this guy consider running for President? He is a religous righter and a farmer. So, it would be pretty damned hard to mao mao him as some kind of hippie devient. At the same time, he actually consistent and sensicle views about government. I am serious. Why not?

  8. it would be pretty damned hard to mao mao him as some kind of hippie devient.

    john, you rule some days.

  9. Thank you AO. It is the same tactic whather it be done by the Black Panthers or the Moral Majority.

  10. The only reason our founding fathers did not give us the right to food freedom, is because they could not have foreseen the day when a neighbor could not get a t-bone steak or a glass of raw milk from a neighbor.

    Also they probably thought none of the enumerated powers in Art I Sec 8 could conceivably threaten “food freedom”. They were right, but the govt they founded stopped caring about the Constitution a long time ago.

  11. Oh, and would anyone who works on a dairy farm drink raw milk? I’ve known a couple people who worked on dairy farms, and they said one of the worst jobs was peeling cow flops off of udders.

    Makes me appreciate Pastuerization & irradiation.

  12. Karen Gervais swears her neighbor grows the best vegetables around. And she has three of Tom Piekarski’s flower baskets hanging from her garage.

    “It’s pretty impressive,” she said of Piekarski’s garden, which flows with rows of corn, tomatoes and cucumbers. “People love his sweet corn… they come from all over for it. And he’s reasonable with his prices.”

    Piekarski, 44, considers gardening his passion – something he has done well for the past 16 years at his one-acre Rosemount home at the southwest corner of Shannon Parkway and Dodd Road. It’s a family affair, with his wife, Sharon, and their three boys – ages 18, 16 and 15 – lending a hand.

    City officials, though, say Piekarski has been improperly operating a retail business in a residential neighborhood by selling his vegetables and flowers and are moving forward with a civil lawsuit, hoping a Dakota County judge will grant an injunction that would shut him down for good.

    “It’s not like he’s had a vegetable stand on the corner or he’s selling a few tomatoes on a card table,” said Mary Tietjen, an attorney at Kennedy & Graven, which represents the city. “He’s had a full-blown business operating out of his property, and that violates the zoning requirements.”

    http://www.twincities.com/ci_13266290?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

  13. “Oh, and would anyone who works on a dairy farm drink raw milk? I’ve known a couple people who worked on dairy farms, and they said one of the worst jobs was peeling cow flops off of udders.”

    My mother grew up on a farm in the 40s and 50s and drank raw milk. It didn’t seem to hurt her. I still would prefer the pastaurized kind. But if the gormonds want their raw milk, let them have it.

  14. “Oh, and would anyone who works on a dairy farm drink raw milk?”

    I do know some such people. An I have been known to enjoy raw milk from time to time (even after seeing how utterly disgusting a dairy farm is. Cows are filthy nasty creatures).

  15. John & Zeb – I figured you guys knew I wasn’t arguing for a law against it, just wondering what the attraction is, other than possibly giving your immune system a good workout.

  16. Ask a kid, we bought our milk from a local dairy farmer. Sometimes, the milk we would buy would still be warm from having been IN the cow. Mom would separate the cream and I would occasionally pour some over cereal for morning breakfast.

    That and some of the most interesting cheeses are made in Europe where they are allowed to use raw milk for fresh cheeses.

    Considering that you don’t hear about massive E. coli outbreaks there, the FDA should reconsider said ban.

  17. “…other than possibly giving your immune system a good workout…” -BakedPenguin

    Ha ha! That sounds like something I would read on the label of a super-sized bottle of pills in the PriceCo big-box store pharmacy & vitamin aisles: “Gives your immune system a great workout!” Gotta wonder what’s IN such pills!

  18. “It’s not like he’s had a vegetable stand on the corner or he’s selling a few tomatoes on a card table,” said Mary Tietjen, an attorney at Kennedy & Graven, which represents the city. — from ItsEverywhere posting above

    Of course, we read recently of kiddie lemonade stand busts in other communities, so I really don’t get Tietjen’s point. If the powers-that-be think you are flouting their authority, they will get you whether you are 9 or 39, running a lemonade stand or a “full-blown business.” What we need to do is limit their power to GET YOU. The Constitution was an attempt to do that. It only went so far, obviously. What more must we do now?

  19. The food is one of the biggest things I miss about living in the middle of nowhere. Of course that memory might be skewed by the other things I liked about it.

    I really miss fresh eggs just a little smaller than your fist and fresh peas, corn, mulberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and so on.

  20. He’s had a full-blown business operating out of his property,

    My God! The humanity! An adult, using his property, his own property, mind you, to run a business! And not just any business, but one that delivers fresh and healthy food to people!

    The monster.

  21. This bill is going to raise prices and kill our economy even more.Here is a video I made about HR 875 and read the “more info” on the side.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As_9DXMwJ1Q

  22. Raw milk from a clean farm rocks.

  23. they say full blown business the way they would if he was spreading HIV from having “full blown” AIDS or selling drugs because he was a “full blown” junky.

  24. Let’s recall that faux libertarian Ron Paul believes that it is a perfectly legitimate function of government to ban raw milk — just at the state level, not the federal.

  25. Joel Salatin rocks. I’ve been to his farm, love the products his family produces, and heard him speak to righties and lefties alike and open their minds to ways their favorite politicians are screwing with us. We need a lot more people like him.

  26. Get educated about raw milk. http://articles.mercola.com/si…..rview.aspx

  27. If you think you’re being environmentally friendly by buying from his farm, realize that he uses 10x the amount of land to raise the amount of cattle that he raises. On top of that, customers have to drive to his farm to purchase small amounts of beef rather than efficiently shipping it to distribution centers. It’s not green. It’s just a boutique meat shop.

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