"Heretics Unite" by Joel Salatin, 2014

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sun, 10/26/2014 - 15:18

[Notes on a speech given October 26, 2014 at the Mother Earth News Fair, Topeka KS.]

Neighbors of Polyface Farm are not supportive, call names when interviewed.
Tension of heresy and orthodoxy is hardly a new thing, just gets applied to different things. Within living memory it was USDA policy to feed dead cows to cows. Orthodoxy today is that GMOs are great and will save the world.

Sacred cow #1: Nature is fundamentally broken and we have to fix it. A sick cow must have a pharmaceutical deficit. JS's attitude is that the nature of nature is wellness, and nature's pattern is the working template to follow. It's not about killing the bad bugs, it's about encouraging more good bugs. Right now 1 in 4 baby pigs is dying from epidemic viral porcine diarrhea, and lots of money is being thrown at the problem, but no researchers are questioning crowded conditions pigs are raised in. There are many mechanisms of nature we're just now learning about, ex. language of bacteria in our guts, herbivores graze into the wind to stay ahead of plants warning each other and turning bitter. Biological things can heal, and no mechanical system ever devised can do that. If we follow nature's template instead of a mechanistic one, we can heal our own systems.

#2: Efficiency requires monocultures. Heretics prize diversity and multispeciation, to confuse pathogens and increase production. Variety of tasks reduces workplace injuries. Chickens are superior in all ways to household pets -- they are even better role models for children!

#3: Home kitchens are for losers who can't hire others to cook for them. Heretics believe a home-centric food system is the only way to have integrity and faith rather than ignorance and fear. Need to rediscover the home larder as inspiration for confidence in our own resilience and the Earth's abundance.

#4: The US has a divine dispensation that makes us uniquely immune from collapse. Growth is not always good, and many of the forms of growth we see as positive indicators are actually negative.

#5: Rebels are great everywhere but in the US. Here, rebels are called terrorists, e.g. eco-terrorists. How a nation treats its lunatic fringe determines whether it is a free or tyrannous society. Experimenters need to stand together to retain rights to experiment.

#6: Cheap food is a national privilege, and cheap food is produced by reducing the number of people on the land. Heretics embrace the ideal of the educated and well-rounded farmer, and getting as many eyes on the acre as possible.

#7: All problems must be solved by federal government. But innovation requires small-scale prototypes, and federal solutions prevent that experimentation. OSHA regulations on interns in farming represent a double standard when compared to other ways people spend their time, e.g. recreational camping or the military. Regulations on small farms and food processors are stricter and more expensive than those on large ones.

So proudly embrace the title of heretic, because heretics ultimately are the antidotes to civilization's morass.