Healing the Earth

Reader Contribution by Joel Salatin
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The self-reliance tsunami arguably spawned by MOTHER EARTH NEWS in the early 1970s is a revolution for “integrity living.” That’s a powerful phrase, but I think it captures the essence of our movement.

I think most of us who attend MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS and read the full Ogden Publications curriculum have a deep-seated belief that most of modern America is living a lie. Hence the notion of “integrity living.” For example, it’s simply untrue that industrial farming, monocropping and petroleum-based fertilizers can actually sustain our civilization. We simply don’t believe genetically modified corn and soybeans are the difference between abundance and scarcity.

In our gardens and diversified, decentralized, compost-driven farms, we know how abundant the Earth wants to be if we respectfully massage nature’s templates. We don’t have to swagger into nature like a bunch of conquistadors to get the Earth to produce. Actually, abundance is nature’s default position when we touch our ecological umbilical with awe and reverence.

Big industrial agribusiness would have us think that their Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) ensure life — that to deprive our planet of CAFOs would mean starvation for millions. But those of us who count ourselves among the MOTHER EARTH NEWS family know that pastured livestock — animals that move freely and eat perennials — actually produce more per acre than the animals on grain-chemical-pharmaceutical-petroleum-confinement factory farms.

Indeed, our movement is like the little boy in the fable who cried: “The emperor has no clothes!” We believe compost makes the richest soil, the most nutrient-dense vegetables and the most regenerative production. We dare to question the notion that life is fundamentally mechanical and that safety requires sterility. We know that most bacteria are good, and that bad ones that proliferate into pathogenicity only do so when our management is wrong.

We don’t believe Wall Street is more important than healthy earthworms. We don’t believe that petroleum is more important than clean water. We don’t believe knowing about the dysfunction du jour of the Kardashians is more important than what will become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone at dinner time. We certainly don’t believe the answers to our societal maladies emanate from Washington. No, we think our civilization is only as healthy as our soil, our economy is only as healthy as our personal finances, and our health care begins in our own kitchens and gardens.

To believe otherwise is to drink the Kool-Aid of a cult that promotes disempowerment, and corporate and governmental dependency. If wellness comes from drugs rather than our gardens, we’ll spend quite a bit more on drugs. If our homesteads heal us emotionally, physically and spiritually, what need have we of so much health care in the first place? If our mission is sacred enough and noble enough to consume our life focus, when do we become depressed about our physical appearance enough to demand corrective surgery? We glow naturally when we’re consumed with redemption and nurturing.

Everything else is chasing a lie. I know that may sound strong, but I think days like those we’re currently living in demand clarity. It’s not good enough simply to slow down. If you’re going the wrong way, slowing down won’t get you to your destination. You have to turn around and go the other way. Our community of rebels, of humble truth seekers, wants to turn our culture around. We don’t despise our country. We don’t desire failure. We desire light, a beacon to show the world that our wealth need not show the way to more rapid destruction, but can be leveraged to heal more acres, more backyards, more communities faster than any civilization on the right path has ever done it. That’s our goal, our truth.

Now let’s keep going if we’re going, and let’s start if we’re not going yet. We are the truth antidote for our society. Let’s show it in our gardens, our compost piles, our vermicomposting bins and our domestic larders. That’s not hoarding: It’s ultimate freedom, liberty. Here’s the truth: Security does not come from outside. It comes from inside. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s FAIRS. Until then, keep reading and keep doing. Our homesteads pulse with the heartbeat of truth. Here’s to a great 2014.

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