Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Joel Salatin 's Posts


Joel Salatin responds to New York Times’ ‘Myth of Sustainable Meat’

The following post originally appeared on the Polyface Farms Facebook page.

Cows at Polyface Farm. Photo by Amber Karnes.

The recent editorial by James McWilliams, titled "The Myth of Sustainable Meat," contains enough factual errors and skewed assumptions to fill a book, and normally I would dismiss this out of hand as too much nonsense to merit a response. But since it specifically mentioned Polyface, a rebuttal is appropriate. For a more comprehensive rebuttal, read the book Folks, This Ain't Normal.

Let's go point by point. First, that grass-grazing cows emit more methane than grain-fed ones. This is factually false. Actually, the amount of methane emitted by fermentation is the same whether it occurs in the cow or outside. Whether the feed is eaten by an herbivore or left to rot on its own, the methane generated is identical. Wetlands emit some 95 percent of all methane in the world; herbivores are insignificant enough to not even merit consideration. Anyone who really wants to stop methane needs to start draining wetlands. Quick, or we'll all perish. I assume he's figuring that since it takes longer to grow a beef on grass than on grain, the difference in time adds days to the emissions. But grain production carries a host of maladies far worse than methane. This is simply cherry-picking one negative out of many positives to smear the foundation of how soil builds: herbivore pruning, perennial disturbance-rest cycles, solar-grown biomass, and decomposition. This is like demonizing marriage because a good one will include some arguments.


Protein: We only serve white meat here [Excerpt]

Editor's note: What follows is an excerpt from Joel Salatin’s latest book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal. Taken from the chapter called “We Only Serve White Meat Here,” the passage illustrates the relationship Salatin's farm, Polyface, has with the national chain Chipotle, and takes a critical look at the "mismatch between today’s fast food industry and the local food system."

Pasture-raised chickens on Polyface Farm. (Photo by Dane Brian.)

As a small farmer, I need to sell the whole animal. So does the food industry, and it’s invented ingenious ways to do that by locating a steak house on one corner and a burger joint on the other. Between the two, the whole animal gets used. But fast food, because of its volume and narrow-spectrum use, inherently creates a conundrum for local supply.


Drinking problems

I drink raw milk (sold illegally on the underground market)

From Joel Salatin's foreword to The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David Gumpert. I drink raw milk, sold illegally on the underground black market. I grew up on raw milk from our own Guernsey cows that our family hand-milked twice a day. We made yogurt, ice cream, butter, and cottage cheese. All through high school in the early 1970s, I sold our homemade yogurt, butter, buttermilk, and cottage cheese at the Curb Market on Saturday mornings. This was a precursor to today's farmer's markets. In those days, the Virginia Department of Agriculture had a …

Read more: Food, Politics