“How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, ‘No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don’t care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.’ Wouldn’t world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?” – Joel Salatin
I was fortunate to hear Joel Salatin speak this last weekend in Cambridge at the Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard University.
For those of you that have not seen the movie Food, Inc, Joel is a farmer and author. He runs a farm called Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia, a region of the country called the Shenandoah Valley. Joel raises his livestock using a holistic method of farming and animal husbandry. His animals are free of chemicals, antibiotics and raised in a manner opposite of what most farms are doing in America.
His philosophy: raise animals on healthy grass on which they can thrive and live in a harmony with nature. Cows are moved from one pasture to another rather than be centrally feed. The chickens are raised in portable coups placed on the pastures where they dig through the cow dung for fly larvae and helping to fertilize the land with their droppings.
Salatin has been extremely critical of America’s raising of animals and food supply and has been a beacon for sustainable farming. He produces what he calls “beyond organic” meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible agriculture.
His talk was an interesting blend of sermon and lecture and felt more like Sunday school then a conference at the prestigious Harvard University. I agree with many of his points, biggest being there is more harm in not letting kids play in the mud and get dirty than keeping them indoors playing video games. Kids need to learn about life and what better way than a kid’s garden.
The theme of his talk was simple: a return to “farm values” and a desperate need to create sustainable farming…they seem intimately linked. He made several noteworthy points, but I felt his best contribution was the quote I started this with.
His quote can be best summarized by Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
This seems to ring true today more than ever.