World's Fair

Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm is about a half hour from Charlottesville, give or take. His local prominence preceded the Omnivore’s Dilemma bump of ’06 and continues on after. Jane Black, the food writer for the Washington Post, wrote last year about the Chipotle franchise’s decision to use Salatin’s pigs as the sole source for their Charlottesville store’s carnitas. I use her story in a few of my classes as an entry into the larger topic of local food, infrastructure, distribution, and land use.

Nightline ran a story last night about the Chipotle-Salatin partnership. I don’t know how to embed the video in this post, so I’ll give the link instead: Chipotle Seeks New Model for Quality Fast Food.

One thing they emphasize in the story, or have Salatin emphasizing, is the animal welfare and moral obligation aspect — that happier pigs are better pigs. They live better, we live better, and the food is better. At the same time, the conditions in which they live are less caustic, so it’s not just the pig’s welfare and the “pigness of the pig” at stake, but the way we use land and produce and manage pollution from it (as with, by contrast, CAFOs). I’m guessing the new and widely discussed Food, Inc. film has more info on just such a topic.

Plus, don’t forget the provocative Our Daily Bread.

Comments

  1. #1 Publius
    June 18, 2009

    Uh,”the way we use land and produce and manage pollution from it”, huhh??

    The photo I looked at shows pigs tearing up an ecologically delicate forest understory and rubbing the bark from a few stunted trees to keep them stunted.

    How, exactly is this exemplary land use? Is forest land not being compromised and do the pigs not deposit their ‘piggyness’ indiscriminantly in the watershed?

  2. #2 cm
    June 19, 2009

    Publius, I just saw Salatin talk a few months back. I think he might respond to you by saying that the pigs are stationed and then moved from area to area on his grassy and forested land on a specific schedule that allows the pig-ravaged parts to recover fully. He argued, in fact, that the “disruption”, as he called it, of land is necessary for the land and the vegetation there (possibly due to some nutrient cycling stuff?), akin to how forest fires are necessary for some plants to germinate.

    As far as pig manure goes, I would imagine he would say that his style of farming allows the manure to be absorbed by the land because it is dispersed over time and the land can handle it in that way, whereas intensive hog farming concentrates the manure in huge pools that breed scary bacteria, etc., and which is a civil engineering and ecological nightmare waiting to happen.

    I have next to no ability to evaluate these claims knowledgeably. I do know, though, that he also said that if his methods of cattle grazing were adopted by all the cattlemen of the U.S., we could sequester all of the human-industry-generated carbon released since the start of the Industrial Revolution within 10 years by having the cattle convert grass to manure which they then trample into the soil. That strikes me as laughable incorrect, but then again I am totally out of my field here, pardon the pun.

  3. #3 Publius
    June 19, 2009

    Salatin makes his living by talking, not by farming.

    One would expect him to defend his boutique marketing niche and shrug off the biological consequences, spinning them as a benefit (beneficial as a good, brisk forest fire, in this case).

    Salatin blithely claims his pigs improve a forest floor desperately in need of some lively eco-destruction, while trained conservationists in regions like Hawaii have a very different view: http://www.hawaiiecoregionplan.info/threats.html

    Salatin shrugs off epidemiologic concerns, asserting that his pig’s feces are no threat while condemning commercial agriculture, alone, as an accident waiting to happen. Once again, trained scientists do not necessarily share his complacency: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611144016.htm

    If the farmers of the US would adopt Salatin’s “methods”, then they had better become adept at talking for a living because their farming livelihood will decline, taking the nutrition and general standard of living of a few million people down with them. The carbon sequestation assertions are dubious, at best. I agree that they could, indeed be laughable.

    A few boutique pigs for a tiny niche market representing a popular elitist affectation in Western society. Hardly a credible model for restructuring all of American agriculture.

    Pigness? No thanks, and keep your hogs out of my forest and away from my flower beds, if you please.

  4. #4 sikiş videoları
    June 21, 2009

    I do know, though, that he also said that if his methods of cattle grazing were adopted by all the cattlemen of the U.S., we could sequester all of the human-industry-generated carbon released since the start of the Industrial Revolution within 10 years by having the cattle convert grass to manure which they then trample into the soil. That strikes me as laughable incorrect, but then again I am totally out of my field here, pardon the pun.

  5. #5 sikiş
    June 21, 2009

    I do know, though, that he also said that if his methods of cattle grazing were adopted by all the cattlemen of the U.S., we could sequester all of the human-industry-generated carbon released since the start of the Industrial Revolution within 10 years by having the cattle convert grass to manure which they then trample into the soil. That strikes me as laughable incorrect, but then again I am totally out of my field here, pardon the pun.

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