Joel Salatin defends the use of technology in the clean food movement

Raleigh Addington
Raleigh Addington
editor at Chartwell Speakers

Drawing on his expertise in libertarian farming practices, Joel Salatin writes for this piece for Chartwell to defend farming that uses technology when producing ‘clean’ food. Chartwell are proud to represent Joel for speaker bookings at events and conferences worldwide, simply get in touch for Joel’s availability, topics and fees. He will visit Europe on tour in November 2016 so do get in touch if you’d like to book him for an event!

The press releases emanating from the industrial food and factory farming sector agree on one significant point:  anyone daring to question the techno-industrial agenda is anti-science.  Those of us who promote local, pasture-based, diversified, non-chemical systems carry a scarlet letter that stands for disease, washboards, hearth cooking, and starvation.

Anyone who dares to suggest that only food available before 1900 should be eaten, or only food you can pronounce should be on the plate, receives excoriating broadsides like “I guess they don’t believe in cars,” or “they’re bringing back hog cholera.”  I’ve been food-vegetables-meal-kitchenlabeled everything from a bioterrorist to a Typhoid Mary to a friend of starvation and disease.

Promoting compost instead of chemicals and local food instead of cheap distant imports puts me in the barbarian camp.  Innuendo and broad brushes may be effective, but they aren’t accurate. Unfortunately, too many in my tribe differentiate our values by lumping them in with the good ol’ days.  That’s irritating, frustrating, and wrong-headed.  We’re actually promoting better days.

The truth is that plastic pipe enables us to run streams uphill to the perfect spot for environmentally-enhancing water points.  We control livestock with space age electric fencing using computer micro-chip energizers to mimic ancient, productive, soil-building migratory choreography on tiny parcels of land. With the chain saw and efficient wood chippers we can harvest and generate carbon for efficient on-farm composting as fertilizer, integrating the forest and open land ecosystems more symbiotically than nature could have imagined.  Small diesel 4-wheel drive tractors with front-end loaders free the farmer from shoveling in a carbon-centric fertility program.

Although the beavers are largely gone, through permaculture landscape design using modern efficient excavation equipment, we can hydrate better than ever.  Stainless steel and rural electrification enable small farmers to process food in a more sanitary protocol than large, centralized facilities.  On-farm refrigeration and freezers add sanitary holding capacity.  Bandsaw mills use one-tenth-inch blades weighing two pounds, powered by a twenty-horsepower Honda engine, to create mobile tinker-toy infrastructure for livestock shelter.  Spun poly fiber called shade cloth simulates the variegated sun splashes coming through a tree.

Everywhere you look on our farm you see scientific discovery and technology, but it is always subservient to heritage wisdom and natural template.  That’s the difference between us and today’s industrial orthodoxy, where the constraints of biological and ecological patterns hold no value.  Our side has not and is not standing still.  We use countless things that Grandpa would have given his eyeteeth to have.  With the proper use of  technology, our side is now spinning circles around the industrial food/farm complex in production, nutrition, resource health, and community vibrancy.  They just don’t realize toxic chemicals, fertilizer, and artificial foods are obsolete.  But they will.


Joel Salatin is a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and an inspirational speaker on sustainability and food policy. A wordsmith, he describes his occupation as “mob-stocking hervbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.”

His humorous and conviction-based speeches are akin to theatrical performances, often receiving standing ovations.







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