Joel Salatin on Healing the Earth

Staci Strauss

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I just read Joel Salatin’s article in Mother Earth News, the one called “Healing the Earth,” and once again, I am blown away by this guy.

We met Joel several years ago when he came to our little town of Woodstock, New York on a frigid February weekend to speak the truth about our responsibility to the earth, and good sustainable food practices. We interviewed him in the children’s library at the elementary school, and we also recorded his lecture. Some would call it a sermon on the gospel of real food, but I’m not the religious type!

I have read everything he has written, and when we can, we stop at Polyface Farms in Staunton,Virginia to visit him for a field report. So I wasn’t surprised to see this essay he wrote in this month’s Mother Earth News–(the original heart of the sustainable real food movement in my view).

I think most of us who attend MOTHER EARTH NEWS fairs and read the full Ogden Publications curriculum have a deep-seated belief that most of modern America is living a lie.

In Joel’s deep winter musings, he writes:

I think most of us who attend Mother Earth News fairs and read the full Ogden Publications curriculum have a deep-seated belief that most of modern America is living a lie. Hence the notion of integrity living. For example, it’s simply untrue that industrial farming, monocropping, and petroleum-based fertilizers can actually sustain our civilization. We simply don’t believe genetically modified corn and soybeans are the difference between abundance and scarcity.

In our gardens and diversified, decentralized, compost-driven farms we know how abundant the earth wants to be if we respectfully massage nature’s templates. We don’t have to swagger into nature like a bunch of conquistadors to get the earth to produce. Actually, abundance is nature’s default position when we touch our ecological umbilical cord with awe and reverence.

Big industrial agri-business would have us think that their Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) ensure life: that to deprive our planet of CAFOs would mean starvation for millions. But those of us who count ourselves in the Mother Earth News family know that pastured livestock, where animals freely move and eat perennials, actually produces more per acre than the grain-chemical-pharmaceutical-petroleum-confinement factory farm.

Wow. Just WOW. When we started HandPicked Nation two years ago, we firmly believed we could be a platform for those that wanted to continue the ecology movement that began in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was just a kid, but I remember sewing the green ‘ecology’ flag patch to my jeans. Did you have one?

And although our school was far away and no one rode their bikes regularly in suburban Dallas, a group of my friends started  “bike day” where everyone road their bikes instead of taking the usual ride in the gas guzzlers of the day.

Back then, Mother Earth News was one of the few, if not the only source for information on sustainable, sound, integrity-based living. But something happened. There was a war, a gas crisis, and then the greedy 80’s, and the ecology movement felt as if it was swept off to the side–abandoned for supposedly greener pastures. I am happy to see that Mother Earth News is as strong as ever, and to be some part of bringing relevant information to those hungry for change.

Joel continues:

We don’t believe Wall Street is more important than healthy earthworms. We don’t believe that petroleum is more important than clean water. We don’t believe knowing about the dysfunction du jour of the Kardashians is more important than what will become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone at dinner time. We certainly don’t believe the answers to our societal maladies emanate from Washington. No, we think our civilization is only as healthy as our soil, our economy is only as healthy as our personal finances, and our health care begins in our own kitchens and gardens.

To believe otherwise is to drink the Kool-Aid of a cult that promotes disempowerment, corporate and governmental dependency. If wellness comes from drugs rather than our gardens, we’ll spend quite a bit more on drugs. If our homesteads heal us emotionally, physically, and spiritually, what need have we of so much health care in the first place? If our mission is sacred enough and noble enough to consume our life focus, when do we become depressed about our physical appearance enough to demand corrective surgery? We glow naturally when we’re consumed with redemption and nurturing.

That’s pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

Check out Joel’s books, if you haven’t already, and let’s pause and appreciate Mother Earth News, a publication that hasn’t strayed from it’s roots in all these years.

Tell us what you think about what Mr. Salatin has to say.

Photo credit: Megan Reynolds