BauertothePeople (B2P)

Wilhelm Geiger

B2P Interview | Polyface Farms - Joel Salatin

And yet it moves! | Und sie bewegt sich doch!

28.04.2024 57 min

Video zur Episode


Zusammenfassung & Show Notes

## English

In this B2P interview, Willy spoke with Joel Salatin. Joel is the founder of Polyface Farms in Virginia, USA. He is known for his unique agricultural approach and likes to describe himself as a "Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist and lunatic farmer."The conversation took place on the sidelines of a 2-day "Masterclass" in Artstetten (Lower Austria), organized by the Austrian farmer and former "apprentice" of Joel Salatin, Micha Hamersky.

Joel talks about his family's escape from Venezuela, his humble beginnings as an egg seller, and his pioneering work in sustainable agriculture practices at Polyface Farm. We discuss innovative techniques such as composting and managed grazing, as well as the entrepreneurial and holistic aspects of small-scale farming.

Conversations about pastured poultry, regulatory challenges, and the intersection of animal welfare and veganism provide further insights into Joel's vision of sustainable farming practices.

Joel is considered a thought leader and visionary by many farmers around the globe. However, there are also critical voices that question the practicality of his approach. We also delve into what it takes for this, in this interview. As always, simply tune in and form your own opinion.

## Deutsch 

In diesem B2P Interview hat Willy mit Joel Salatin gesprochen. Joel ist Gründer der Polyface Farms in Virginia, USA. Er ist bekannt für seinen eigenständigen landwirtschaftlichen Ansatz und beschreibt sich selbst gerne als "christlicher libertärer Umweltkapitalist und verrückter Bauer".Das Gespräch fand am Rande einer 2-tägigen "Masterclass" in Artstetten (NÖ) statt, die der österreichische Landwirt und frühere "Praktikant" von Joel Salatin, Micha Hamersky, organisierte.

Joel erzählt von der Flucht der Familie aus Venezuela, von seinen bescheidenen Anfängen als Eierverkäufer bis hin zur Pionierarbeit nachhaltiger Landwirtschaftspraktiken auf der Polyface Farm. Wir sprechen über die innovativen Techniken des Kompostierens und der kontrollierten Beweidung und werfen einen Blick auf die unternehmerischen und ganzheitlichen Aspekte der Kleinbauernwirtschaft.

Diskussionen über Weidehaltung von Geflügel, regulatorische Herausforderungen sowie die Schnittstelle zwischen Tierwohl und Veganismus liefern weitere Einblicke in Joels Vorstellung von nachhaltigen Landwirtschaftspraktiken.

Für viele Landwirte rund um den Globus gilt Joel als Vordenker und Visionär. Es gibt aber auch kritische Stimmen, welche die Praktikabilität seines Ansatzes bezweifeln. Was es dafür braucht, darüber sprechen wir auch in diesem Interview. Und wie immer gilt, einfach reinhören und sich dann selbst eine Meinung bilden.

Polyface Farms
Joel on Wikipedia


Wait, let's check the sound. Yeah, ABC 123. ABC 123. So it's actually, it's a, how do you say, it's a premiere because it's the first interview we do in English for our German audience. So hello, audience. Don't be mad. We have to do it in English because Joe, you don't speak English, right? Yes. Yeah. So just start right into it, right? Okay. So let's start. My guest today is Joel Salatin. For everyone of you who doesn't know him, it's probably a few because we are not a farming podcast. Sure. Usually it's on me to introduce you, but if you would do a pitch in like 30 seconds, how would you describe yourself? So yes, I'm Joel Salatin, co-owner. Our family co-owns Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. So the website is And we've been there since 1961. And I would describe myself, my self-made moniker is Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Capitalist Lunatic Farmer. So that's where we are. I think I read it somewhere already. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I think Polyface, the name is the program, right? Yeah, it's the farm of many faces. PoliFace, the farm of many faces. Before we get into your approach, that you can quickly describe it, because it's just an interview, what were the experiences in your past that led you the way to where you are today? The experiences. Yeah. Well, I mean, I got my first chickens at 10 years old. Okay. And began selling eggs. And I'm a middle- At 10 years? At 10 years old. Okay. Yes. And I'm the middle child. I have an older brother and a younger sister. Yeah. So I'm the classic middle child entrepreneur. You know, the oldest are the engineers, the meticulous ones. The youngest ones are the salespeople. They're the manipulators. Really? The middle ones are the entrepreneurs. And I loved the farm. My grandfather, my dad's dad, had a fantastic garden that I always loved as a child going there to visit him. And so I just wanted to farm full time. But my parents, mom and dad, dad was an accountant, mom was a school teacher. They never made a living from the farm. So it was basically a glorified homestead. We grew our food. It was a a great place to grow up but it was not a going concern and so um as my egg business grew and through high school you know i started looking at you know how do how do i come back and finally september 24 1982 i left my outside employment uh i was a newspaper reporter newspaper journalist yeah journalist a colleague that's right yes absolutely joe yeah so uh so i i i left that That's September 24, 1982, and returned to the farm. Full-time. Yeah, full-time. Full-time. Okay. Your parents bought the farm in 1961, I guess, after you lived in Venezuela before, right? That's correct. Your whole family then had to leave Venezuela. So you came here, bought the farm. What was the intention to buy a farm for your parents back then? Well, my dad always wanted a farm. Why that? When he was a teenager, he wanted to farm full-time, but here he was. You know he grew up in the midwest you know um no money no farm how do you how do you start even in. At that time so so he was in the navy in world war ii yeah and uh and after the navy got his degree in in economics and he wanted to go to a developing country so anywhere in south america he was ready to go to anywhere he saw that as a new frontier you know it's a it's a new and and so he he went with texas oil company uh as an as a bilingual accountant he learned spanish okay and And as a bilingual accountant with Texas Oil Company into the oil fields in 1940, whatever, 49. Yeah. And in seven years was able to save up enough money to buy a farm. Okay. And so he bought the farm and we started raising chickens. And he had these two sons coming on and, you know, it all looked good. And then a junta came, you know, a revolution. Yeah, yeah. Of Pérez Jiménez in 1959. Okay. And we were, we were Americans. How old were you then? Well, I was three at that point. And what happens when you have a complete breakdown like that is that it allows people who have scores to settle, to settle them with guns rather than, you know, through the law. And so. Our chickens were so clean that dad commandeered the local market very quickly, and the local farmers accused us of being voodoo and witchcraft because our chickens were so clean. And so when the revolution came and lawlessness and anarchy, basically, you know, a posse came and machine guns came out the back door and we ran out the back door and we lost everything. Everything so but your your father your family managed to become a player yeah in venezuela chicken farming yes absolutely yeah the the goal the goal was chickens and dairy and dairy yeah meat chicken and dairy those were the two things that dad saw as as lacking yeah this is 1950s you know um and those are the two things so we started with chickens you know quicker quicker cash turned around and and uh and got into it and we lost everything and ended up you know coming back to the U.S. On Easter Sunday, 1961. 1961. And ended up, and you know, dad was 39. We lost everything. And I remember when I turned 39 thinking, if I lost it all, would I start over? And dad grew a lot in my estimation, realizing that he'd put all of his dreams, everything in there, on the line, and lost it all. Now, looking back, our family sees it as a blessing because if we had stayed and been successful, which we probably would have been, then what about when Chavez or Maduro comes along and then we lose it, but it's a lot bigger. So we see it as divine intervention to stop us as an embryo rather than- Yeah, and Polyface would have never- Polyface would have never been. Would have never been involved, yeah. And I probably would have never met my wife. Sure. I would have married a beautiful little Venezuelan girl. Yeah, and I would never have met you. It all leads to today, right? Yeah. So it's a really amazing story if you're live and would be happy to have more time. But if you would narrow it down, so was there any questioning in your past that you would become a farmer? No. Was it clear for you? No, it was clear for me. From my earliest memory, it was, how do I get back here on the farm? How do I get back here on the farm? And you know how, you know, the impediments, the hurdles, the financial realities of the. Starting as a full-time farmer and fortunately mom mom and dad's off-farm jobs paid they paid for the land yeah so we we had a land platform but that was it you know and um and fortunately dad was quite an experimenter or very much of an innovator in mobile and mobile infrastructure, composting non-chemical you know for uh soil management uh controlled grazing moving the cows around so we were we were doing some experimenting but it was it was all on you know, basically a subsistence scale. And so when I came back in 1982, we had these experiments that now by being there full time, I was able to, you know, to leverage the experiments and say, okay, we did this with two cows. Can we do it with 50? We did this with 20 chickens. Can we do it with 500? You know, and basically moved it up. Would you consider yourself, more a farmer or an entrepreneur? Oh. Because everything you do sounds very, very upscaling, entrepreneurial. Yeah. And would you even make any difference between a farmer and an entrepreneur? Yeah, well, certainly there are farmers that aren't entrepreneurs, you know, that are just whatever, you know, grow it for the commodity market and see themselves as basically, you know, just producers, almost peasants, if you will, not to be demeaning, but that is real. But no, no, so dad saw early on as a financial guy, he realized early on that we, as a small farm, we could not compete in the marketplace unless we wore the middleman hats, the processor, the marketer, the distributor, to be able, because we couldn't produce the volume, so we had to make the volume worth more, and so that puts you into an entrepreneur. Now, if you're direct marketing, you have to have a brand, a name, a messaging, you have to have a vision for how I'm going to solve your problem as a customer. Yeah, yeah. Was there, you started full-time 1982, yeah? you came back, was there polyphase already in your mind, completed? Or was there a polyphase moment when you realized, oh, that's the way I want to do it? Or was it there from the beginning? Yeah, so poly, I mean the... We have to explain it, what it is, right? Yeah, well, the vision, I mean, the vision for a farm was very much dad's vision. Oh, yeah? But financially... He and mom couldn't make the farm make a living and pay the mortgage at the same time. And frankly, we didn't know then what we know now. You know, we didn't have, and we didn't have a lot of the infrastructure. Electric fence was very different. Even chainsaws, you know, chainsaws weren't invented until 1957. Really? Yeah. Yeah, 1957. Okay. Which is the year I was born. Yeah. So it's kind of cool to know that. it all comes together there i have a love affair with chainsaws yeah and and so so you have this um this kind of i you have the idea and so when we started so when i came back full time was when we when we created polyface for for tax reasons we wanted to incorporate for for dad was an accountant and so he understood you know tax law and said you know we we need we need to have a brand and interestingly i remember i was we were we were discussing it um originally we wanted to be interface i wanted to be interface the interfacing environments well first interface before polyface yeah yeah okay um so so but dad dad first wanted to be salatin salatin incorporated. And i said no dad i said this is bigger than our family you know there might be a day when a when a salatin isn't running this place you know it's it's something different yeah so i i i really really dug my heels in on that and so he said well you know what so at that time i was really enamored of the the forest open land and riparian the intersection of those three environments and so i said let's be interfaced the interfacing of these three environments so we applied for it and there was already an interface in virginia so we couldn't we couldn't be interfaced yeah so i was milking a cow i remember he brought in the paperwork into the barn i'm milking the cow there you know he says well the state corporation commission turned us down we can't be interfaced I said, oh, man. And just like that, I said, well, if we can't be Interface, let's be Miniface. Polyface. Miniface. Oh, Miniface was… Miniface. Polyface. And so we both, oh, that sounds good. And so we put that in and got it. But was it back then when you invented the name? Well, be happy that it's not Interface because nowadays there are interfaces everywhere. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there's not so much Polyfaces, right? Polyface, yeah, yeah. But back then when you invented the name, at least, was the agricultural approach already there or did it evolve over time? Oh, no, no. Well, I mean, you always refine, but no, no, the non-chemical, pasture-based products, livestock moving around, multi-species, direct marketing, all that was in place. I mean, it was. Infantile. It was more an idea, a dream, but it was in place. It just needed a body who could be there full time to make it happen. And so that's... But when did it get invented? did you read a book was it invented anywhere else this uh multi-species mark the whole phase approach oh the approach where did it come from oh well it comes from a million different places yeah uh i mean i mean the composting certainly comes from rodale yeah uh the rodale complete book of composting i mean it's it's a whatever it's a 1200 page uh encyclopedia but i i read it I read the whole thing word for word, and I can't describe how important that was in my thinking. So composting was the basis. Yeah. Would you say that? Well, a non-chemical fertilizer, certainly. And then another one was Andre Voisin with Grass Productivity. He did the managed grazing thing. And so those were two. But the day I remember as a child, I was, I don't know what, eight maybe. And dad said, I heard about this farmer on a Sunday afternoon. Let's take, let's take a drive Sunday afternoon. So we all get in the car and I don't remember where we went. It was, you know, it was probably an hour away or something. And we visited this guy and he had, he had portable buildings. I don't know if it was pigs, chickens, lambs. I don't know what it was. Portable buildings. He had a portable building. All I remember about the trip was coming home and dad just literally levitating almost, just enthusiastic about the idea of portable infrastructure. Well, of course, that solves North Shore Surprise. It solves sanitation. It solves new ground. It solves, you know, a pasture rest and grass recuperation and, you know, all these things. Eureka. It was. It was a eureka moment. And he came back, my older brother wanted to have rabbits. He wanted to raise rabbits. Okay. And so, so dad said, well, let's make a portable rabbit shelter thing. And so he, he built a, um, he built a, a central hub with, that had four compartments for the does and then wings out from it that were, uh, 12, they were, uh, four, four meter runs divided in half. Like wings so okay and on saturdays when he was home from work he and us two boys. The two of us on one end and he on the other we we would move this the rabbits would run into their quarters we would pick up that central hub and move it you know one next to the next section and then we pick up each wing and reattach it and then we're good for a week and the rabbits had a a one meter by three by four meter run you know that they could go out in yeah problem was rabbits dig and oh we could not keep the rabbits in we tried everything took the way out yeah okay yeah, and and you know and you can't catch a rabbit yeah i mean a chicken you can kind of you know run a chicken down and you can try it at least yeah but a rabbit i mean they they they run under building they they get away yeah and um and so we finally abandoned it but being farmers you know you never throw anything away and so we took those old rabbit runs and we pulled them up in the rafters of the shed and left them well meanwhile my chicken business begins to to grow meanwhile okay yeah my chicken business and i i had the the proverbial you know chicken house with a with a you know a yard that was just dirt you know the moonscape yard uh the chickens and and i said man man, I need some more chicken space. And dad just said, well, we got those old rabbit runs up there. Why don't we just pull those rabbit and put chickens in them? Pastured poultry was born. Okay. Just like that. So you were innovation in form of recombining things that were already there, but in a new way. Yeah, in totally new ways. And I would say with new infrastructure. For example, composting. How do you do that on a large scale? and you need biomass. And so in the early 1970s, I was still in high school and, uh, we bought our first wood chipper so that we could generate our own biomass from the woods, branches and stuff, uh, from the woods in, in that. And, um, that, that was a game changer. That was a bit of a game changer. Uh, another thing that dad did in the, in six, in 1969, uh, built a portable shade mobile for the cows that we could move around the fields like a portable shade tree. That was, that was just fundamental in, in getting, um, um, you know, the cattle manure and urine out in the field and not under a tree. But take the Shedmobile. What was the need or the urge that led into the invention of the Shedmobile? Well, when you're moving these cows around and you see them lounging under trees. Well, I don't want the manure under trees. I want it out here in the field. So it's always under the tree, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So he centralized it. Right, right. We needed to democratize the fertility. And so that was the main reason. But that day, seeing that mobile infrastructure, he came back. I think the first mobile thing, the rabbit shelter was one. The other one that he did was a mobile little veal calf milking barn where we had these veal calves. They had a slatted floor. The calves would live inside it, and each corner had a stanchion for a milk cow. So a milk cow would come up, and then the calves would jump out and suck and nurse the cow. And by the time he got around to the fourth one, the first one was almost done. And then the cows would shade up around the, the cat, the calf mobile thing. And, uh, and that, that worked except with his work schedule. And we kids were too small to do it. Um, and, And the routine was off, you know, it was 10 o'clock one night and then three o'clock another day. And it just didn't work. Animals like routine, you know, they didn't like. Oh, we do too. We do. We sure do. We do too. And so, you know, that didn't work. But the concept, the concept of the movement. And so, you know, we made lamb things that you could move. I mean, just movement. This whole movable infrastructure was just so, so critical. Yeah. So if you try to explain to someone who doesn't know you at all, what is the Polyphase concept? It's mobility. We know. We already got a glimpse of that. But what is the overall approach of Polyphase farming? Yeah. So the overall approach is using nature as a template and it's actually fairly simple. All ecosystems have animals. Okay. So we have animals and you integrate animals with crops and plants. So you have integration, not segregation. Integration. Integration, not segregation. And then animals move. They're not stationary. Animals move. They're not confined in confinement buildings. And animals have an immune system that needs to be trusted to keep things healthy. And if the animal is sick, then it's probably my fault. In other words, there aren't disease fairies up here. Oh, I think I'll deal with John's farm today and sprinkle some disease dust down here. No tooth fairies, no disease fairies. No fairies at all. That's right. No fairies at all. And the way a lot of farmers act, you'd think that's what they believe. You know, I didn't do anything. My cows are sick. I didn't do anything. Well, no. There's always something that we did to override the immune system. So we didn't use, you know, vaccines and drugs and all these things, medications. It was all about how do we have healthy animals? So that means no stress, a good habitat, their proper habitat, and fully honoring the pigness of the pig, the chickeness of the chicken. Making happy animals. How do you create the happy animals? And then another principle was just animals doing the work. Animals doing the work. So instead of machinery and us doing the work like the pigs turning compost, chickens following the cow, sanitizing the pasture so we don't have to use grub-a-sides and warmers, that was where we leveraged the—. You know, the innate, whatever, distinctiveness of an animal to actually, you know, to actually do work. And then the direct marketing, the direct marketing was so important. Just the business, huh? Yeah, to get the retail, to get the full retail dollar. That was just absolutely critical and is still critical for what we do. So the system, your approach is totally out of the, let's call it the industrial agricultural system. Yes. Because everything you say is, well, try is the opposite. Integration opposed to segregation, right? Yes. So try to integrate everything onto, let's say, one piece of land, right? Yeah, yeah. So multi-speciation rather than mono-speciation. Does it mean you have multiple animals at one place at one time or after each other, or how can I visualize it? Both. Yeah? Some of them are intermingled. Uh, but a lot of times it's, it's leader, leader following. Like cow and chicken. Yeah. Yeah. You know, when they, they, they, they have different, uh, you know, different times where, where a square yard, a square meter might be occupied, you know, one day by chickens, one day by cows, one day by turkeys, you know, uh, different, different things. But, um. Yeah, and non-confinement raising, non-structure raising, so that the animals spread their own droppings. You don't have confinement. You don't have concrete. You don't have buildings. And the animals spread their own. Do you have to buy any fertilizer in Europe? We have not bought any chemical fertilizer in 60 years. Okay. And we've not planted a seed in 60 years. I mean, except in the garden. We plant garden seeds, but as far as the pastures, we've never planted a seed. Okay. What would you say, if any farmer listens to us now and thinks, I like the concept, sounds sustainable. Well, we haven't said sustainable at all yet. So what do I need? What are the prerequisites to start a polyphase approach? And what are reasons to avoid it, maybe? Be well um the the main thing the main i mean the main hurdle is in your own mind uh a mindset thing yeah yeah mind i mean that we need climate change we need climate change the climate of the mind uh that's where we need the climate change and so you know the first thing you need to do is um is start immersing yourself in the literature in the literature of of of an ecological logical, different type of approach. I mean, I've written 16 books. You can start with some of those as a shameless plug. Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. Marketing, right? But beyond that, the historical record, I mean, you've got Alan Savory's work, Andre Voisin, you've got Rodale. I mean, you've got Elliot Coleman with Horticulture, lean farm jm40a i mean there's there's there's a bunch of uh a great great um leaders out there who have done this in numerous spheres of response of of production uh that can you know that can get you going i talked to a farmer from a local farmer here yesterday and she said uh she likes the approach because what we told her about it but she said all my fields are spreaded they're not uh there's not one field around the farm, but there's half an acre, an acre, five acres, widely spread around the area. Yeah. Is that a negative or is that a structural hurdle to implement polyphase? Yeah, for sure. For sure. It's harder, you know, it's harder to run a farm if you don't have contiguous property. But, you know, we lease about 17 properties in the area. So we've got stuff spread all over, which is why mobile infrastructure is so valuable. Because we move, you know, chicken shelters and gobbledygooks and Lamborghinis. That's what we call the Lamborghini. Lamb shelters, cow shelters. We move this stuff all around the place from farm to farm. Even I showed today in the talk, I showed a portable brooders, even chick brooders on a chassis, on an axle. So we've got water troughs on an axle. I mean, you can put anything mobile. And so when the land, when you have to go on a road between parcels, mobile infrastructure is a real positive thing. What's the minimum field requirement, size requirement to start? Yeah, I would say in theory, you could start this on a 20th of a hectare. I mean, you can run a shelter of chicken on a 20th of a hectare. You can run turkeys. 500 square meters. Yeah, you could run. That's not a lot. No, it's not. But that would be enough to start. That's in theory. In general, you can make a substantial contribution to your income in something as small as two hectares. Um a substantial uh shot into your income i mean on ours where we where we stack these various enterprises you know we're turning in about fifty thousand dollars per hectare so two hectares a hundred thousand dollars whatever you know uh ninety ninety euros or ninety ninety thousand euros you know that's enough to. That's enough to play with, at least. And then you can go from there. What knowledge do people have to have to start? You said literature, but I have, we say, two left hands. So I'm not a very motoric specialized person. But what do you have? Yeah, so I think the most important thing you need is patience to start incrementally. So many people they they want it all today uh i mean with social media tiktok and everything you know we we've raised a very impatient uh group of people and so we we need patience because. This comes incrementally you you maybe you start with some chickens and then you move over to maybe sheep uh and and of course you know you've you've got your garden and you you start with produce and maybe then you grow some, you plant some apple trees or something and, and you just, you just start, um, but, but you, but, but you have to be patient and methodical and not get frustrated, uh, by not being fast and not, and don't get burned out by going too fast. And then everything, you know, the waterline breaks, the cow has mastitis, the chickens are out and the and the and the tomatoes have you know blossom and rot and you know and the whole thing is is broken down because uh because you did too much too fast so it's more a mental a mental thing than an intellectual yeah yeah i well and experience experience you you've got well you can't buy that no you can't buy experience you you have you have to start with something and i mean even if you're in the city you can start with a you know with with a jar of uh sprouted mung beans on your windowsill, you know? You can get a little vermicomposting kit to put worms under your kitchen sink. There are things that you can do to just... Play with this, if you will. Play with the biology. Play with life. Play with something living as opposed to something not living like a computer or a video game. And you can start. I mean, in America right now, you'll love this. In the U.S., I just read this statistic. The average male in America between 25 and 35 years old spends 20 hours a week playing video games. Okay. That's average, average. So what could you do if you were a male between 25 and 35 with 20 hours a week? You could do some things. You could start a business. You could start something. Yeah. But what would you say, I don't have written down that question, but how could you overcome the socialized limitations of entrepreneurial thinking? Because you try to make a business or an innovation out of every hurl that comes in your way. What would you say would be a trick or the first step to overcome these limitations? Is there any? Well, I mean, entrepreneurs are, you know, according to business books, only 10% of people are entrepreneurs. You can't become one. You are one. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there's a certain, I mean, you obviously have to be a little bit intrepid. You can't be peer dependent. And you can't be just, oh, no, what are people going to say? What are people going to – no, that's not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur, by definition, creates something that didn't exist before. That's, by definition, an entrepreneur, which means you've got to be ready to sail into a galaxy that nobody's gone to sometimes. You've got to have a Star Trek mentality. And so –. And sometimes people become entrepreneurs kind of in a backdoor approach by seeing a need. And if there's a need, can I meet this need? And so sometimes it just happens because you see a need that other people don't see or you see a solution that other people don't see or you see an opportunity that other people don't see. If I say that we have too many regulations, the complaint I hear a lot is we have too many regulations. You said it today. You have one big disadvantage. That's your regulation. Yeah. Well, we have them too. Yeah. We have them too. Not quite as bad as Europe. Yeah. But, you know, similar. But am I an entrepreneur if I say we have too many regulations or should I look how to overcome them? Circumvent. Circumvent. Go around. Yeah, that was a rhetorical question. Yeah, of course. Yeah, go around. I mean, yeah, there are some things that you're going to want to comply with, get a license for, probably, you know, a driver's license. You might want to comply with that. But there are lots of things. So in the U.S. now, we've actually started over the last four years, we're now having rogue food conferences, rogue food conferences, where we are showcasing innovative entrepreneurs who have figured out how to legally circumvent these food laws. Like being able to conduct transactions that aren't in commerce or in sale. I mean, that's where they get you. You can give stuff away, but as soon as you sell it, now suddenly you're a criminal. Applying the tax mindset on the agricultural mindset, right? Yes, absolutely. How can I overcome taxes legally, right? That's right. That's right. And so if we, you know, I'm convinced that if we had put the effort in, for example, government organic certification, If we had put that much investment in either changing the laws or figuring out how to circumvent the laws, we would be way farther along than we are now with another level of regulations on organic certification. But that's probably another story for another two hours of an interview. Your approach is heavily based on animals, right? What you say, we have a very prominent animal welfare movement, the part of the population that becomes vegan is increasing. Yes. What's your position on that or your opinion? And is your approach animal-free thinkable or is it based on animals? Yes. Well, yeah, we believe very strongly that animals in the ecosystem are very important, not only from an ecology standpoint, but our nutritional standpoint. I mean, B12 vitamins, you can't get those except in meat. I mean, well, I mean, you can make them in a laboratory and take B12 supplements, but B12 is one. And there are others. That's just one. but but nutritionally i mean and that's what that's what's driving the the carnivore diet the you know there are numerous diets now that are really going the meat oriented but the animal welfare movement uh is is legitimate and it has been um uh whatever facilitated by factory farming by industrial farming. And so we've got to get these animals out of buildings and get them out where they're- Get them mobile? Yes, where they're on the countryside, beautiful and well-managed, and where the cow is expressing her cowness because she's able to graze and walk and move around. Yeah, yeah. And I'll just say this. I really believe that if every farm were like ours, the animal welfare, for the, the, the animal rights movement would just almost, uh, it would just shrivel. Um, and we routinely have, you know, vegans and, and radical animal rightists come to our place and, and they, they say, well, goodness, you know, if everything was like this, it would be, it would be really different. So it's beautiful. It doesn't smell. The animals are happy. Um. You know, one of our, it's interesting. We've learned a lot from our chefs. We service a lot of chefs over the years. And one of the things we've learned from them is that our meat and poultry cooks about 15% faster than the regular supermarket stuff. And we've tried and tried to figure out why. And the thing we keep coming to is that our animals don't secrete adrenaline, Adrenaline, you know, stress, adrenaline, you know, that's when you, the child is pinned under the car and the mom can suddenly pick up the car and the child rolls out. And so, but in confinement, in, you know, confinement housing, the animals are stressed. Yeah. And so they're, all their life, they're just, they're dripping adrenaline, dripping adrenaline into their tissue. Yeah. And then we're eating that, that tightness, that tissue. It takes longer to cook. whereas ours are not secreting that and so it's tender and and it's stress-free so basically we're we're able to eat happiness think about that wouldn't it be cool if you could eat happiness yeah and and and for us that that that's kind of one of our new um whatever messages and and and nuances that we're that we're touching our customers with we're not just providing you nutrition, we're providing you, you can actually eat happiness. And in a world that's very violent, that has whatever, you know, abused animals, I would suggest that this abuse and violence to animals that we've done in agriculture, in our livestock, may actually induce us to. Um have a have a problem as well um second last question uh probably a question you never heard but it's it's the polyphrase approach uh uh can it feed the world oh that's my favorite yes yeah i have to ask yeah yeah um yeah the two most common questions are can you feed the world this way and number two if we could can we afford it yeah price so yeah so it's volume and price those are the two things so um not only can we feed the world this way um we can do it without three-legged salamanders infertile frogs and a dead zone the size of rhode island in the gulf of mexico the perception that we can't feed the world this way developed so you got to realize that the the non-chemical approach was not really um scalable uh it did not compete with chemicals for the first 20 years from about, you know, the end of World War II until 1965 because we simply didn't have chippers, concrete, chainsaws, pumps. Blowers, black plastic pipe. We didn't have the infrastructure to run a carbon-centric animal control electric fence type of system. System so it took about 20 years post-world war ii for i'll just say our side to catch up i i got it i got it but we did catch up we did catch up by 1965 and and now we're spinning circles around the chemical approach uh but but they're so entrenched in the orthodoxy that they can't you know people can't see how much i mean our farm we're getting 400 cow days per acre. The average in the county is 80. We're getting five times the county average per acre in, in, in production. Um. But nobody recognizes it because it's not in the orthodoxy. Here's the bottom line for me. The bottom line is, if we had had a Manhattan Project, you know what the Manhattan Project was? If we had had a Manhattan Project for compost, not only would we have fed the world, we would have done it without all the negative chemical consequences. But we didn't have that. And so it took a while for our side to really get to a functional, scalable approach. Every time when I hear approaches that are so fundamentally seem to be better than what we do in our standard system, let's say, you say 400 cow days opposed to 80 cow days. And by those calories, you still nurture the soil below it. So what prevents us, if the solution seems to be there, what prevents us from applying it? Not just in the USA, but in Europe too. Yeah, exactly. It's called paradigms. you know it's your your it's what you it's what you know to be true and so if you go to for example an eu an eu agriculture expert okay um yeah here's what he knows to be true or she i don't want to be sexist here um what what that person knows to be true is. Compost can never beat chemicals period i mean end of argument they know to be true that you can't mix species because they're all going to get diseases from each other they know that you can't um you can't have animals outside because wild birds and ducks and geese might bring diseases diseases to them and you can't have pigs outside because african swine flu is coming up from africa and the pigs are going to get sick and so these these are things i mean just like look back at uh bring a good a good example you know um covid they just knew that the only way to solve All of this was everybody to wear a mask, stay inside, and get the jab. Now we know all three of those things were not helpful. But we were rushed into COVID. We have the agriculturalism evolved over decades. But isn't there a reflection? How do we get a reflection process that some of this might be true, might be okay to have some knowledge, but we have to every once in a while reflect and see if we can update it. How would we get this update process into this? Well, believe me, the modern industrial agriculture system is not the first system to destroy the ecology. I mean, the history of civilizations is a history of people who came to a fertile place and then destroyed it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Defertilized it. Right, right. Greece, Rome, India. I mean. History. Yeah, history. Yeah. So we're not the first ones to destroy it. And I think a lot of that is simply because people tend to not have a long view, a long horizon view. And so we tend to be selfish. We tend to be greedy, get all I can get right now today, and not have a long horizon view. And nature takes a long horizon. I mean, it takes nature, whatever, you know, 500 years to build an inch of soil, you know, and, you know, we can destroy an inch in about 10 years. Yeah, and the legislation period is four to five years. Yes, yes, yes, yes. We are out of sync, right? Yeah, that's right. And so you have these long cycles, and it just takes time to – it takes time – well, I mean, let's take DDT. DDT for example you know that was that was the answer to everything post-World War II and it took. 20 years, took 20 years to realize, Ooh, maybe this isn't the best thing. I mean, think of, um, Oh, another good one is, um, is feeding dead cows to cows. I mean, that started in the 1970s. I mean, I remember, I remember being, getting, um, invitations from the government, go attend this seminar and learn this new technique where we, you know, we feed dead cow. Now they didn't see feed, say feed dead cows to cow, but you know, where we feed, you know, know animal proteins to cows yeah and uh sounds much better yeah sounds much better i like to say dead cows to cows just so everybody understands and and so this was done for 30 years and people like me i mean we didn't do it not because we didn't like science or technology i looked around the planet i said where does an herbivore eat carry on eat meat well they don't that's why they're herbivores they eat plants and so we didn't do it and we're you know we were labeled, Luddites, Bart, where do you want to be? Go back to the cave. You're anti-science, anti-technology, da-da-da-da. Thirty years later, we suddenly have, you know, mad cow. And who was right? Well, I was right. But a lot of times there's a slinky, you know, there's a long lag between the thing we think and the actual, the results of it. And nature is very forgiving that way. You know, you can beat around nature a while before, you know, before nature actually, you know, shows enough to where you can see, ooh, this is not good. And sometimes it takes a while. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I've heard one interview, last question. I've heard one interview and I like this question. And what do you think if you look at the future of agriculture? What are the fields where you see big chances of development for new people getting into agriculture? Will agriculture develop positively over new chances? And what areas of agriculture do you see a rather dark future for? Yeah. So, so the one thing I don't do is prophesy, but I do look at trajectories. I do look at, you know, let's do that. I do look at trajectories. And the trajectory right now is that the, the industrial, I'll just say the industrial ag complex is heading toward artificial intelligence, the, the internet of things. They want every square foot of a farm to be tied into a, to a government database. Virtual. And trust me, if you have a problem and you ask that beta base to solve it, they're never going to say, oh, you have avian influenza? I'll tell you what, how about taking all your chickens out on pasture and it'll never say that. You have a fertility problem, it'll never say, well, try compost. And so the system, if you will, the orthodox system is heading pell-mell down, I mean, fake meat, laboratory meat, cell street, all this fake stuff. Now they're trying to, you know, at the University of California, they're saying that they can genetically modify lettuce so that the leaves actually have vaccines in them. So you can take your vaccine by eating a leaf of lettuce. And so now there are states. Back to the roots. Yeah. So, you know, I see that on the one approach. But on the other hand, on the other hand, what I see is an awakening awareness in both farmers and consumers to disentangle from the system. So, you know, when Putin invades Ukraine and fertilizer jumps 400%, well, I wonder if I can farm without chemical fertilizer. Can I farm in a way that I'm not dependent on Russia? Okay. And, and, and of course, you know, you've got the, you've got the great big food corporations that, that control the price of food, you know, at the supermarket. And, and then that goes all the way down to the farmer who's at the end of the chain. Well, I wonder if I can, if I can sell things in a way that doesn't make me dependent on Cargill, Tyson, Bayer corporation, you know, can I, can I do that? And so there's a tremendous amount of yearning, I think, and searching within both the consumer and the farmer. Mm-hmm. About how to create what I call a parallel universe. Can we create, can we exit the current universe? Can we create a parallel universe here that isn't subject to all these fragilities and geopolitical problems and all that, you know, that we see? And that is extremely hopeful. And it's why, you know, people are here. People are very interested in this. My favorite little analogy or metaphor on this is if you ever had a wasp nest, you ever had a wasp nest like on the back porch and you know, it's like size of a, of a softball maybe. And they just sit there and you go in and out, you know, and you just look at them and they're all just kind of sitting there chilling, you know, chilling, hanging out. Yeah. We're, yeah, we're just sitting here. One, once in a while you see one fly off and one come back and you, ah, you know, they're just kind of, they're just kind of cool chilling out there and you decide to clean off the back porch one day so you're out there and you're sweeping and you're moving boxes and you accidentally bump the rafter that the beehive is on with the handle of the of the broom okay you bump it all of a sudden all those wasps are you know they're they're they're all they're not coming after you yet but they're alert they're alert they're i feel like that's the way the world is right now I feel like the world right now is that disturbed beehive. Ready to take off. Yes. And they're not sure what hit, what rattled us, what happened. But I think I need to be ready to make changes. I think I need to be ready to do different things and ready to take off, like you said. And that's my favorite way to describe what I see in the world right now, because the number one thing that people ask me now is, how do I disentangle? How do I reduce my dependency on these big corporate interests, these foreign countries, all this stuff? Up and and um and so i i think that's very positive because it's driving people to innovate in a more resilient self-reliant you know independent way and i think it's wonderful so the term is in my mind is deglobalization so relocalize local uh uh kaisler uh yeah yeah that's certainly part of it that's certainly part of it is is relocalization yeah i mean the shorter the chain of custody between farmer and plate, the more stable it is. We want secure, stable. Safe food. Secure, stable, and safe. And that's all easier the closer the food is to your mouth. Yeah. How much agriculture is beyond agriculture? Because one answer that you gave before was social agriculture. And that brought up, oh yeah, right. So what is the potential of agriculture beyond agriculture on farms? From a business view, because the thing you explained where you can bring elderly people or disabled people to farms to add an extra revenue from a business perspective, but also from a societal perspective. I got it. Jump over the boundaries, mental boundaries of what a farm is. Absolutely. So, so if we say that a farm, a farm can ultimately be one of the most healing oases in a, in a culture, uh, then yes, with the, with the baby boomer generation and the increased, you know, sickness, I mean, in the U S now one in 34 babies is autistic. Statistic uh one in 34 one in 34 yeah it was it was one in one in uh 10 000 just 30 years ago so so we're in a we're in a a a just a um almost a straight line exponential increase i mean and these people they need care uh and and and and of course the baby boomer the elders So, yeah, I think farms can be healing in the social arts, emotional healing, and a deinstitutionalized way to minister to people. There are a lot of things. I mean, even people that are mentally disadvantaged, what we used to call retarded, just slow. Hey, they can put away eggs. They can gather eggs. They can shovel things. They can plant garden. Autistic people i was at an autistic farm up in michigan and it was wonderful these these these were adults autistic adults they were 25 20 they had aged out of the school system and um and and they would come and they grew produce and they had a roadside stand where people and the community was was all about supporting them i mean the the the outpouring of of i want to i want to participate in this from the community everybody knows yeah we've got to we got to provide, meaningful meaningful life-affirming things for these people and so yeah i think that there is a real opportunity but here's the thing that kind of person doesn't want to be on a factory farm we don't need to douse them with more chemicals okay so there's a certain kind of farm. Where it works and farms where it doesn't. And the farms where it works are farms more like ours, where it's beautiful, peaceful. It doesn't stink. There is happiness and life as opposed to chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and death. It's all about life. So there are many, many more phases than the polyphagous at first. Firsthand so there are what's more than poly yeah well myriad i don't know yeah poly many yeah yeah so it doesn't end with ecology it goes it hands over to the social world to to societal uh topics etc absolutely all all those things okay yeah um well i said uh 15 minutes it was a bit more but that's that's our standard uh joel thank you very much for your time and uh yeah thank you for for having me. It's been a delight. Fiat te. Ciao. Music.


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