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In a hook for the ages, Joel Salatin drives his tractor right to the heart of health and nutrition.

“If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?”

He could have asked if you have priced heart disease, or diabetes, too.

What he’s talking about is Death By Lifestyle through the choices we make.

Sometimes it’s not a choice.

Portland, Oregon got bad news on water and air: lead in the water, heavy metals in the air in parts of town.

Living in pollution isn’t a choice anyone makes, but what happens next is a choice.

First, find the risks you face.


Leading causes of death in from

Heart disease: 614,348
• Cancer: 591,699
• Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
• Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
• Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
• Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
• Diabetes: 76,488
• Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227
• Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,146
• Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

Which of these occur in your family?

Heart disease leads the killer pack by a thin margin, with help from the sugar industry.


Did we need to learn Harvard researchers were influenced by sugar money to aim heart disease research away from sugar and toward dietary fat?


In an editorial published Monday that accompanied the sugar industry analysis, New York University professor of nutrition Marion Nestle noted that for decades following the study, scientists and health officials focused on reducing saturated fat, not sugar, to prevent heart disease.

While scientists are still working to understand links between diet and heart disease, concern has shifted in recent years to sugars, and away from fat, Nestle said.

A committee that advised the federal government on dietary guidelines said the available evidence shows “no appreciable relationship” between the dietary cholesterol and heart disease, although it still recommended limiting saturated fats.

The American Heart Association cites a study published in 2014 in saying that too much added sugar can increase risk of heart disease, though the authors of that study says the biological reasons for the link are not completely understood.

The findings published Monday are part of an ongoing project by a former dentist, Cristin Kearns, to reveal the sugar industry’s decades-long efforts to counter science linking sugar with negative health effects, including diabetes. The latest work, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, is based primarily on 31 pages of correspondence between the sugar group and one of the Harvard researchers who authored the review.

With over a million people dropping from heart disease and cancer combined, maybe it’s time to explore food.

Go ahead and price cancer treatment and heart disease. Chances are pretty good you won’t be on the out-patient schedule if you connect with a heavy hitting disease.

Price a few nights in the local hospital for the whole picture.

The extra money you spend on organic today reduces the money you may spend on your health problems.

Is buying organic too expensive? Give it time to soak in, like paying $5 for a pint of beer, $4 for a cup of coffee, and the shifting cost for a gallon of gasoline.

Either we’re all in for an organic learning experience, or a chemically produced future.

The ‘hidden Agent Orange’ from

What is new – and disturbingly so – is that now that staple crops like soy and corn have been engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D, it may soon be applied to U.S. arable land on an unprecedented scale — not unlike its indiscriminate application during Vietnam.

The whole point of engineering resistance to an herbicide within a GMO plant, of course, is so that you can “carpet bomb” an entire field, leaving only your “Frankenfoods” standing, without having to exert even a fraction of the effort required raise crops organically and sustainably.

Polyface Farms is a model for ‘another way.’ It’s the bait Joel Salatin uses on his hook.



He has authored nine books, five of them how-to types:

This is the term Salatin coined to describe his pasture-finished cattle: fresh daily paddocks and lots of forage species variety. A hard core how-to talk, this one walks the audience though electric fencing, water systems, breeding, movement logistics, forage growth and rest cycles, stockpiling for dormant seasons, and processing. A permutation on the theme is mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization. Whew! And it’s all here to see.

  • YOU CAN FARM: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise

Most aspiring farmers face a litany of objections from well-meaning family and friends.  From “it’s demeaning” to “it’s impossible,” naysayers rule.  Based on his iconic book by the same title, Salatin rebuffs the naysayers with practical advice and a can-do spirit.  Not only can you farm, many people are doing it.  Using his own Polyface Farm story as an example, he takes the audience through a journey of principle, character, discovery, and relationship that yields success on the other end.

  • HOLY COWS AND HOG HEAVEN: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food, is an attempt to bring producers and patrons together in mutual understanding and appreciation

Despite all the hype about local or green food, the single biggest impediment to wider adoption is not research, programs, organizations, or networking. It is the demonizing and criminalizing of virtually all indigenous and heritage-based food practices.

You’ve heard of the other big writer from Virginia? Thomas Jefferson has a place up the road.

Jefferson would be the first to say, “All farms are not created equal,” if he wrote the Declaration of Independence today.

Instead of Tom, we have Joel Salatin:

Using Jefferson’s Farm Book as a reference, the rest of the talk centers around those colonial-era frustrations, from fertility to fencing, transportation to water, portability to seasonality to energy, and shows how today’s technological advances have answered each one.  In light-hearted refrains, Salatin says:  “TJ, let me show you this.”  From one struggling farmer to another struggling farmer, this talk leaves the audience appreciative of Jefferson’s practical problems and enthusiastic about today’s possibilities.


If you’ve played sports you’ve seen Joel Salatin in your coach’s face.

Salatin’s expression urges you to reach the tough places and do something you’ve never done, like a coach asking you to dig in and win.

His face is a winner’s face, but not the quarterback, receiver, or running back who score the points and win the day.

The face you see on Joel Salatin is a lineman’s face, sometimes the offensive line, sometimes the defensive line, but always the face of encouragement.

When he tells you you can do something, he does it because you can do what he’s asking. He knows what you can do because he’s done it.

He wants you to feel the same power that drives him, his message, is farm. If you’re a follower, he’s a leader; if you’re a leader, his is the voice you hear.

Take a closer look at Joel Salatin and repeat his hook, “If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?”

This is a man who has seen people pass away knowing it didn’t have to be like that. He knows the answer to, “Why am I dying like this?”

If you’ve been at the bedside of your loved one during their final days, your face reflects the love for them and sorrow of their passing.

It’s complicated, this living, and we keep doing it. Now we can do it a little better. Why not take a step in that direction?

If you buy one organic thing today, think of Joel Salatin.

If big steps are more your style, hit the Polyface Farm library.

And if you’re a hands-on learner, you’re covered.

The Salatin Semester: A Complete Homestudy Course in Polyface-Style Diversified Farming

Salatin Semester


Here Joel Salatin shares decades of hard-learned lessons and advice. Learn about:

• Pastured broilers
• Pastured layers (feathernets & eggmobiles)
• Salad bar beef
• Pigaerator pork
• Irrigation & fencing
• On-farm processing
• Relationship marketing
• Multi-use infrastructure
• Ideal farm layout
• Leasing farms & adding subcontractors

Fans of Polyface Farms and Joel Salatin are an engaged group of readers, a ready to go bunch of searchers.

The first Polyface post on BoomerPDX gathered a couple hundred readers, which surprised me.

The second Polyface post doubled the amount. Could Polyface Farm, Bill Gates, and a willing labor force, get together and create sustainable food on a large scale?

The third Polyface post went over 1300 hits in one day. If Polyface Farms use their techniques to produce better food and better land, maybe the same techniques can improve your life.

joel salatin

image via boomerpdx

From 200, to 400, to 1300 shows more than engagement.

My guess is there’s a growing interest, a rising trend, to know more about food and its consequences over time.

They feel The Hook, read The Book, and share The Look.

About David Gillaspie
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