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Joel Salatin: How to Eat Meat and Respect It, Too

Yes! Magazine has a terrific interview with Joel Salatin, whose latest book is The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer, in their Spring 2011 issue. The interview focuses on diet, and the controversial question of whether meat eating can be sustainable (see Simon Fairlie’s Meat: A Benign Extravagance for more on this issue).  Here’s a sample of the piece:

Madeline Ostrander: What do you think a sustainable diet should look like?

Joel Salatin: What would a sustainable diet look like? Oh, my!

Ostrander: Because it’s often talked about as a vegetarian diet.

Salatin: No, not at all. I think we need to go back to localized diets, and in North America, yes, we can really grow perennials, so there would be a lot of herbivore—lamb, beef—in a diet. And our fruits and vegetables, which have a high water content, would be grown close to home, preferably in our backyards. In 1945, 40 percent of all vegetables consumed in the United States were grown in backyards.

I think a local diet would have an indigenous flair. If you’re along the coast, you’d eat more seafood. If you’re inland, you would eat more herbivore and vegetables. If you’re in Florida, you would eat more citrus. Historically, it’s not about the relationship of meat to vegetables or whatever. It’s more about, what does this area grow well with a minimum of inputs?

Ostrander: Cows have gotten a bad rap lately for their contributions to environmental problems. What’s your response?

Salatin: Don’t blame the cow for the negatives of the industrial food system. All of the data that the anti-meat people use assumes an irrigated, concentrated animal feeding operation. Over 50 percent of the annuals that we grow in American agriculture are to feed cows. Cows aren’t supposed to eat corn. They’re supposed to mow forage. It’s completely inverted from nature’s paradigm. To use that inverted paradigm to demonize grazing, the most efficacious mechanism for planet restoration, is either consciously antagonistic to the truth or is ignorant of the kind of synergistic models that are out here.

Continue reading this article at Yes! Magazine.

Joel Salatin’s books, including The Sheer Ecstasy of Being A Lunatic Farmer, are available now in our bookstore.


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