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Food independence or elitism? An interview with Joel Salatin (part 3 of 5)

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Pastured chickens at Polyface farms

In part 1 of this 5-part video interview series, we heard a short history of Polyface farms and its’ owner Joel Salatin.

In part 2, Joel talked about the issue of “real food” education and whether we should really try to convert everyone.

In this video: The big question – isn’t this whole sustainable food thing really just an elitist movement? Who can really afford it? Listen to Joel’s decidedly non-politically-correct answer.

What do you think?

Is the whole sustainable, organic, free-range agriculture thing just a bunch of elitist horse hockey? Or are people just making excuses? Tell us in the comments.

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  1. Nathan
    August 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    “It’s sooooo expensive!”

    I hear this ALL the time. Usually from friends drinking 7 dollar beers at bars. Ugh.

    Another point, assuming it is somewhat cheaper to eat industrial (I would guess at best about half the price), I would rather eat well now, enjoy my life, and not spend my retirement on 10 years as a vegetable on palliative care.

  2. Margaretrc
    August 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I think Mr. Salatin makes some valid points. If people got their priorities straight, a lot more could afford to eat sustainably produced food. There would still be a small minority who genuinely couldn’t, but I think the vast majority could. Too often it’s more a matter of won’t than can’t.

  3. Josh Frey
    August 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I agree with Joel, it’s all about priorities.

    Of course there’s going to be a percentage of people who just can’t afford to eat pasture-raised food, but they’re definitely not the majority. Most people either don’t know or don’t care, at least that’s my experience.

    Also, to expand on his point: it really doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’re really struggling for money, there’s no shame in picking up 2 gallons of milk at costco for $4.00, even if it’s not ideal. Just don’t chalk off the idea completely and decide it’s frozen pizzas or nothing.

    Josh

  4. Patrick
    August 30, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I agree with pretty much everything Joel says in this vid so i don’t have much to add in the way of discourse. Just want to say thank you Amber for this little interview series. Really enjoying it.

  5. Kyle
    August 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    If everyone starts eating a grass-fed meat paleo diet, does the meat become more or less expensive?

    I don’t make a ton of money, don’t waste it on any of the things mentioned in the video either, but I need to step up and buy grass-fed. Kind of an inspiring little rant there.

    From a health and environmental/sustainability standpoint its worth the extra couple bucks a pound eh?

    • Robb Wolf
      August 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Initially more, then as production kicks up, prices go down.

  6. Josh
    March 8, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I’m a little late to the party, but here’s something that’s been bugging me… Joel mentioned the hispanic family in Food Inc. The mother said that they can’t afford to eat better because the father is diabetic and his medication is too expensive. The sad truth that we all know is that if he stopped eating Burger King and drinking Pepsi all day, he likely wouldn’t be diabetic anymore. Spend the medicine money on real food, and there would be no need for the medicine. Tragically, no one is telling them this. Not their doctor, not the food industry, and certainly not the government.

  7. Greg Venning
    December 6, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Values. For what’s highest on your value system you will always find resources, time, energy and money. Robb, I know you’re being nice and helping people with ways to make a healthful lifestyle affordable but here is what I think you want to scream from the rooftops.

    Pay now, or pay later.

    If you knew what your low quality food was doing to you, if you knew how expensive it is to treat the conditions you are causing with your suicidal lifestyle, the cost of higher quality food is very small.

    If you knew what your processed food actually cost, you wouldn’t go near it.

    Pay now or pay later.

  8. ChuChu
    January 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I think the elitism comes more from some of the attitudes underlined in the replies. “If I can do it, you can do it, if you can’t do it you are lacking as a person(aka I’m better than you). This is the right way, the only way, and if you don’t do it this way your lacking as a person. If you don’t do it this way, and in this manner, your not dong it right and therefore lacking as a person” In these type of dietary movements there seems to be a judgmental, self righteous, preachiness that I even find off putting. And I would guess that the majority of people that DO follow this type of movements spend a lot of their time in their heads judging and looking down on people when they go about, probably in disgust. “Look at that woman feeding her kids a lollipop, what a loser, killing her child. ”

    You also will see in this kinda of dietary movements there is a socioeconomic, cultural, and educational commonality with their followers. Usually those with either some disposable income, access to high end resources, or disposable time, and what I even call disposable brain resources. When you are stuck in the cycle of life living day to day, paycheck to paycheck, its hard to sit down and worry about if everything little think you eat and do is paleo.

    And I know its unimaginable to some that there are people just don’t want to build their life around how they eat they want to actually maybe go to the movies, have cable, take their kids to the amusement park, or do extra curricular activities. Yes, pay now or pay later is a nice bumper sticker but not everyone adheres to that philosophy especially when not everyone ends up paying later.

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