Speaker Post: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm

| 2/16/2012 10:46:57 AM

Joel Salatin Guest PostWhat I like about MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS is that they encourage an active, participatory human presence in nature. Too many environmentalists think that human activity or presence is incompatible with environmentalism.

As a result, we say we're going away to "commune with nature" or we think we have to go somewhere like a state park to be an environmentalist. Agricultural conservation easements routinely deny housing and commerce that make farms viable economic enterprises. A dairy is fine as long as the milk doesn't get bottled on the farm – bottling milk is manufacturing and that would be inappropriate on a farm.

This kind of parsing environmental activities begs the question: "Where is nature?" I would suggest that nature is in us, around us. It cannot be segregated from our beings. That means every moment we are either nourishing the earth or hurting the earth.

The notion that going on an African photo safari is somehow more environmentally embracing than purchasing raw milk through a herd share indicates ecological apartheid. I remember well speaking to a statewide Nature Conservancy banquet several years ago and applauding them for their map designating special places that needed to be preserved. But those special places were tiny islands in a sea of privately owned land.

I challenged the members to realize that ultimately those islands can't be preserved without healthy surroundings. Buying local food, visiting local farms, knowing farmers – building a relational, participatory understanding with that land and its food is ultimately more important than isolating a couple of special places, as if their future could be segregated from the surrounding womb.

Our culture, as an extension of the Greco-Roman linear reductionist compartmentalized fragmented systematized individualized parts-oriented mindset is beset by this cardinal sin of disconnection. Even the environmentalist movement suffers this malady. Farmland preservationists abhor more people on farms. That would mean development and commerce in an otherwise pristine landscape.

2/17/2012 2:33:36 PM

Thank you for this thought provoking and action necessary article.

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