In today's podcast, I interview Joel F. Salatin – a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer”. We discuss his new book The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs and much, much more.
Salatin is an American farmer, lecturer, and author. He raises livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Meat from the farm is sold by direct-marketing to consumers and restaurants.
In high school, Salatin began his own business selling rabbits, eggs, butter and chicken from his family farm at the Staunton Curb Market. He then attended Bob Jones University where he majored in English and was a student leader. He graduated in 1979. Salatin married his childhood sweetheart in 1980 and became a feature writer at the Staunton, Virginia newspaper, The News Leader, where he had worked earlier typing obituaries and police reports.
Tired of “having his stories spiked,” he decided to try farming full-time after first getting involved in a walnut-buying station run by two high school boys. Salatin’s grandfather had been an avid gardener and beekeeper and a follower of J. I. Rodale, the founder of regenerative organic gardening. Salatin’s father worked as an accountant and his mother taught high school physical education. Salatin’s parents had bought the land that became Polyface after losing a farm in Venezuela to political turmoil. They had raised cattle using organic methods, but could not make a living at farming alone.
Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer” produces high-quality “beyond organic” meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, sustainable agriculture. Jo Robinson, the author of Pasture Perfect: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products From Grass-Fed Animals (2004) said of Salatin, “He’s not going back to the old model. There’s nothing in county extension or old-fashioned ag science that really informs him. He is just looking totally afresh at how to maximize production in an integrated system on a holistic farm. He’s just totally innovative.”
Salatin considers his farming a ministry, and he condemns the negative impact on his livelihood and lifestyle of what he considers an increasingly regulatory approach taken by the agencies of the United States government toward farming. Salatin now spends a hundred days a year lecturing at colleges and to environmental groups.
And now from Christian libertarian farmer Joel Salatin is a new book – a clarion call to readers to honor the animals and the land, and produce food based on spiritual principles: The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God's Creation. This book is an important and thought-provoking explanation of how by simply appreciating the marvelous pigness of pigs, we are celebrating the Glory of God.
As a man of deep faith and student of the Bible, and as a respected and successful ecological family farmer, Joel Salatin knows that God created heaven and earth and meant for all living organisms to be true to their nature and their endowed holy purpose. He intended for us to respect and care for His gift of creation, not to ravage and mistreat it for our own pleasure or wealth.
The example that inspires the book's title explains what Salatin means: when huge corporate farms confine pigs in cramped and dark pens, inject them with antibiotics and feed them herbicide-saturated food simply to increase profits, they are not respecting them as a creation of God or allowing them to express even their most rudimentary uniqueness – that special role that is part of His design. Every living organism has a God-given uniqueness to its life that must be honored and respected, and too often that is not happening today.
Salatin shows us the long overlooked ethics and instructions in the Bible for how to eat, how to shop, how to think about how we farm and feed the world. Through scripture and Biblical stories, he shows us why it's more vital than ever to look to the good book rather than corporate America when feeding the country and your family.
Salatin makes a compelling case for Christian stewardship of the earth and how it relates to every action we take regarding our food. He also opens our eyes to a common misconception many Christians may have about environmentalism: it's not a bad thing, and definitely not just the province of secular liberals; it's really a very good thing, part of heeding God's Word.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why Joel calls his new book the Marvelous Pigness of Pigs…[7:10]
-How Christians abuse God's creation, and what's wrong with the average church potluck…[9:10]
-Examples of how even the Bible is chock full of animal rights…[19:17]
-Why Christians should be devoted to soil development…[22:00]
-How a church and church property could be used to actually hydrate the landscape…[33:15]
-How a church property could be used to provide food and water for the entire community…[40:05]
-Why Joel believes that God would not want us to create GMO foods…[45:20]
-What a beautiful, Christian farm and food system should look like…[55:08]
-What it looks like to be “farming with faith” vs. “farming with fear”…[60:50]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Joel or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!