Joel Salatin delivering the keynote address at the 2nd annual Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS12).
Joel is a third generation beyond organic farmer and author whose family owns and operates Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The farm produces salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, forage-based rabbits and direct markets everything to 4,000 families, 40 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets.
A prolific author, Salatin’s seven books to date include both how-to and big picture themes. The farm
features prominently in Michael Pollan’s NYT bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and the award-winning
documentary, Food Inc.
Folks, This Ain’t Normal Based on his book by the same title, this whimsical performance is filled with history, satire, and prophecy. While most Americans seem to think our techno-glitzy disconnected celebrity-worshipping culture will be the first to sail off into a Star Trek future unencumbered by ecological umbilicals, Salatin bets that the future will instead incorporate more tried and true realities from the past.
Ours is the first culture with no chores for children, cheap energy, heavy mechanization, computers, supermarkets, TV dinners and unpronounceable food. Although he doesn’t believe that we will return to horses and buggies, wash boards, and hoop skirts, Salatin believes we will go back in order to go forward, using technology to re-establish historical normalcy.
That normalcy will include edible landscapes, domestic larders, pastured livestock, solar driven carbon cycling for fertility, and a visceral relationship with life’s fundamentals: food, energy, water, air, soil, fabric, shelter. We may as well get started enthusiastically than be dragged reluctantly into this more normal existence. Rather than being an abstract, cerebral, academic look at ecology, food systems, and soil development, this talk is based firmly on a lifetime spent communing with ecology, economics, and emotion in their full reality, as a farmer.
Both sobering and inspiring, this performance empowers people to tackle the seemingly impossibly large tasks that confront our generation. Historical contexts create jump-off points for the future–a future as bright as our imagination and as sure as the past.