Joel Salatin on The Paleo Solution podcast


Joel Salatin

So by this time you guys have met Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and you’ve seen the five part video interview where he talks all about sustainability, food independence, getting back in the kitchen, and growing your own.

Good news! We will have Joel Salatin as a guest on the podcast soon, and we’ll be taking your questions! If you have questions for Joel please post them to the comments. We’ll take questions for a few days, so don’t delay!

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  1. Rich
    September 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I strive to live a lifestyle that is both Paleo and sustainable. I have faced some argument that the primary place of meat in the paleo diet is not congruent with living sustainably. Those arguing this would argue not from a complete vegetarian perspective but from a perspective that plant-based is less energy intensive and more primary as far as consumption from a sustainability perspective.

    So I was wondering what Mr. Salatin’s take on this supposed dilemma would be. Would it be possible for there to be enough Polyface Farms out there to “feed the world” a Paleo diet? Ecologically speaking, can the relationship of the Paleo lifestyle and sustainable agriculture be instituted successfully anywhere in the world?


    • Robb Wolf
      September 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

      We will be looking at the economics of just this question in the future. Permaculture is how we are going to pull all this off. Keep in mind, the numbers the vegetarians consistently site (Diet for a New America for example) are based on grain feeding.

      • June Ohm
        September 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

        and we all know that grass fed is best and probably more sustainable

    • Steven
      September 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Another question in line with sustainability could be: what would be the approximate carbon/methane footprint of Polyface Farms? (Or any other animal based farm with a sustainable ethic and practices)

      I agree with Robb that arguing with veg*n zealots is a waste of time, but these are two issues that may need to be addressed and resolved for Paleo to go mainstream and global.

      • Nutritionator
        September 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

        Weird question: Do cows produce as much gas and methane when eating a grass fed diet compared to grain fed? I know I and a lot of others produce less when avoiding grains ;)

        • Robb Wolf
          September 9, 2011 at 6:43 am

          I think they may produce more relative to just eating the grain if it magically appeared…cellulosic digestion does that, but this stil pales compared to the total footprint of grain fed meat.

    • Jamin
      September 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      FYI… Joel has an entire speech dedicated to this very topic, as well as a number of videos (YouTube them) and articles including one here ( In short, it comes down to a lack of need for petro chemicals and seed inputs (use natural nutrient cycling), using lands suitable for grass production (which aren’t good for row crops), some modern technology (solar powered fences, automated waterers, …), and some good old fashioned know how (read his books, Acres USA, Stockman Grass Farmer, …).

      Hope this helps!

  2. JP
    September 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

    After watching the fifth video, I’d like to hear more about the practical ways that people can further the mission of Joel and Polyface farms. How can we grow and produce food on our own, small scale? How will that make a difference? Does that make sense for my personal finances? Is it cheaper to just go to the grocery store? Or should I seek out and support local farmers? How do I find them? How do I know who I can trust?

  3. leoncaruthers
    September 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Having just bought a small farm (primarily for my wife’s horses), I’m actually planning to implement some of Joel’s ideas (I’m currently working my way through You Can Farm). As a specific question, what would his opinion be of a rabbit/chicken cycle on the same pasture.

    I’ve got an already-fenced yard (about a quarter acre) on sandy soil that seems like a good candidate for a pair of small-animal tractors, and as much as I like beef, I think starting with smaller animals will be lower risk. Rabbits being ruminants that can live well on a high-grass diet, I thought it might make sense to combine them with broilers.

    Sadly, I’m told that unless we have a zombie apocalypse, the horses aren’t on the menu.

  4. Maria
    September 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    What would be on the top of the to-do list when deciding to farm, purchase land, cows, goats, chickens, etc. I know this is the way to go and we are SO interested in doing this, but we are unseasoned and unskilled in terms of farming. Would doing farm work or volunteer work at a farm be a necessity? This seems daunting, but not daunting enough that we don’t want to forge ahead. Small scale farming tips for newbies would be great!
    Thank you!

  5. Tena
    September 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I’m usually too shy to jump into these conversations, but Joel Salatin on the podcast??? Wow! I’ll be tuned in for that one! My question for Joel is: I’m finishing my second year of raising meat chickens, and am having a bit of a moral dilemma about the Cornish Cross chickens that are the meat bird of choice. Can you explain how they are crossed? Who are their parents? Would you consider them genetically modified? They definitely produce a beautiful carcass in a short period of time, but … they are much less hardy than more heirloom birds, and their internal organs are smaller than you would expect & don’t keep up with their muscle & skeletal growth. If you weren’t able to grow the Cornish Cross, is there an heirloom bird you would recommend? One other question–what breed of hogs live at Polyface?

    Thanks so much! I’ve read all of Joel’s books, and have modeled my chicken pen after his. What a great resource he is! I appreciate his willingness to share information with the world!


  6. Meredith Harbour Yetter
    September 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    So I have some backyard chickens, a compost pile and a small garden. How can we implement permaculture on a very small scale, as in suburban/maybe even urban environments?

  7. Nathan A
    September 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    What’s Joel’s workout regimen? :)

    • Amy B.
      September 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Nothing but heavy labor on the farm, I would imagine! ;-)

  8. Nathan A
    September 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    On a more serious note, I wonder if Joel could talk about the geographic limits of running an operation like his. The mid-Atlantic region where Polyface is located obviously is blessed, but what about other parts of the US and other parts of the world? And in particular, I’m interested in his thoughts on the Front Range of Colorado where I’m located.

    I’m not sure the specific question to ask … just hoping for a general exposition on which areas are well-suited to permaculture, which areas are on the margin, and why.

  9. Eric
    September 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I really like Joel’s ideas but I wonder if he has any practical tips to implement them when the ground is frozen and covered with snow?

    • Robb Wolf
      September 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the answer might be “plant in the spring.”

      • Eric
        September 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

        Yeah I guess the only option is to learn how to extend the growing season with greenhouses or similar devices.

    • Justin
      September 7, 2011 at 10:55 am

      You might look for a Tilth book for your climate zone. I just picked one up for the Pacific Northwest and it outlines what/when to plant indoors and out.

  10. Justin
    September 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Questions for Joel:
    -What are your thoughts on Humanure Composting as presented by Joseph Jenkins?
    -Do you think that the concept is scalable?
    -Would you use humanure compost on your farm?
    -What are your thoughts on the following model for humanure composting?
    A commercial office building with composting toilets. A farmer such as your self would pick up the compost from the building for a fee and complete the composting process on the farm. The building would also serve as a drop off point for a metropolition meat CSA. This concept seems to have a good symbiotic relationship and helps close the nutrient cycle.

  11. Stephanie
    September 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I too am very interested in farming for myself! I just visited the farm in Kansas that my Grandma grew up on and that reinvigorated my interest. For now it needs to be more urban style, something that can be done in the backyard of the home we will be purchasing soon. We are allowed chickens in our area :) But someday I would like to be even more self-sustaining and possibly move out to a more rural setting to allow room for more animals and more garden space. So, what can I do to get started? Should I just contact a local farm and try to get involved? What are good books or web resources? For now when we both still work full time, what are the best things to do to get more food independent that are good time investments, ie, make the most difference with a smaller amount of time?

    THANKS!!!!!!! You rock!

  12. Josh Frey
    September 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    For the podcast I’d really like to hear a brief overview of the easiest ways to produce your own food. Like the most bang for your buck in terms of growing vegetables, and some easy animals to raise (other than chickens). I’ve been wondering what would make the most sense if I end up getting acreage – goat? sheep? rabbits?

    Awesome series by the way. I love Joel’s no-bs attitude.

  13. Ian
    September 7, 2011 at 5:47 am

    I’m currently a college student, so my access to real food is limited and I don’t really have a chance of finding & affording farm-raised products. For now, I’m cool with suffering; however, back home, my parents have been doing their best to get the least processed and highest quality meats, vegetables, fruits, etc. They’re now part of a farm co-op and on a monthly trip, pick up wild-caught salmon, grassfed beef, pastured chickens, and an assortment of fresh and enormous vegetables. My mom is currently growing some spices in the backyard and there’s a small tomato plant attempting to survive, but I she’d really like to do more. With limited space and resources, how would you recommend an average family produce more of their own food and become somewhat self-sufficient? We have a very small backyard, so we’ll never be able to fit an orchard, but nothing beats freshly grown food.

    Thank you,
    -Ian from Georgia Tech

  14. Michele
    September 7, 2011 at 6:00 am

    I have read and heard Joel talk about building and utilizing ponds as a water management strategy. I am assuming that a pond is more than a depression that holds water.

    So, I am curious about how he builds a healthy pond.

    What landscape features tell you where to build a pond?
    What plants are needed?
    Do you put fish in the pond?
    What about mosquitoes?
    Would bat houses help if there is a mosquito over population?
    Does he keep the cows out?

    On a different pest management note:

    How has he managed the stink bug invasion?
    Were chickens a common strategy to manage pests prior to insecticides?

  15. Kyle
    September 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’d be interested to hear his thoughts on hydroponics and aquaponics.

  16. Nutritionator
    September 8, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I’d love to get experience working on a farm, especially with animals, especially a natural farm like Joel’s. Is the best way to find something to talk to the farmers at my local farmers market or is there a more efficient way? Wouldn’t mind working in exchange for pastured meat since that’s what I’d be spending any money I make on anyway. I can only take out so many loans for grad school and grass fed meat aint cheap!

    • Robb Wolf
      September 9, 2011 at 6:42 am

      This is part of what the Liberty Garden is about: creating a network of farms that folks can not only patronize, but where you can learn how to do this.

  17. Bobby
    September 9, 2011 at 11:55 am


    Those of us in the paleo community generally recognize that the hardships imposed on small/organic/sustainable farms are the direct result of large agricultural corporations lobbying the mess out of our legislators, with the resulting regulations being used to smother out the little guys who are doing beneficial things. Teaching the masses about sustainable agriculture and cultivating this stuff from a grassroots initiative is obviously one way to enact change, but the regulations will still exist and there will still be hurdles. There has to be a way to enact change from the top-down so we can hit this thing from both ends.

    So here is my question: of all the overly-cumbersome laws and regulations that you must deal with on a daily basis, which ones are the most hard-hitting and which do you think we as citizens of this great country should petition our legislators to change? It would be nice to just say “let farmers do what they want”, but lawmakers need to be handheld through this process if any good is to be enacted, and we have to properly educate them for this to happen.

    Thanks for all that you do, and thanks for the quarter-cow I’m picking up from you tomorrow!


  18. Karen
    September 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Question for Joel

    What percentage of the your chickens’ diet is comprised of grains and soy, and how does that fit in with your ideas about sustainability?

    Do you implement the use of vermiculture at Polyface? If not, why not?

    Joel, you have decreases the need to supplement feed by 45 percent and saved thousands of dollars on grain. What steps have you taken to reduce feed expenditures even further at Polyface?

    Have you ever had the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profiles of your chickens and pigs tested? And if so, what was the outcome?

    What specific issues do you take with food labels like Organic, or American GrassFed?

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