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

pastured poultry at Polyface farms

pastured poultry 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 me in the comments.


  1. says

    Last October my husband and I moved to the fringe of the country. 5 months later we bought our first chickens. we then raised 40 more for meat and now have 20 some layers. We went to the 4H/ FFA Junior Livestock auction and bought a hog and two lambs that were raised free range and orangically as projects. We now have enough meat for the year.

    Did it cost us anymore? No. The price per pound of meat is pretty much the same except that you’d have to compare ours against the organic Whole Foods prepackaged meat which means we are coming out ahead. If you have the space I believe you should raise your own food. My husband works all day in a suite & tie business, I farm. I’ve already been raising my own sheep for meat and wool for a while now but honestly, adding all the other animals really is an amazing experience.

    You can’t by satisfaction from raising your own meat or growing your own vegetables and you can’t beet the taste. You can mark anything in the store free range and organic but it still won’t taste as good. Am I elitest? No. I wear my walmart muck boots as I get up every morning at 5 to take care of the animals. I would say that I am getting back to how my grandparents lived.

  2. Sarah says

    I don’t think it’s elitist, no. What I do think is that it is unrealistic. Very few of us live in a context where sustainable agriculture is particularly sustainable. Most people are open to some change, some people are open to no change at all, few people are open to radical change. If it doesn’t work in the context of our normal lives, even accepting some change, it’s not going to fly.

    My context is a small townhouse outside of DC, with a lovely backyard that gets no sunlight because of the trees behind – nowhere for crops to grow. Certainly no place for chickens. I can grow some peppers and tomatoes on the front porch, but that’s a hobby, not sustainable. Thtis is where our home is, this is where our jobs are, this is where my elderly parents are (under our care), and I simply do not have the option to move to a farm in the country and raise chickens.

    What we can do – we can buy as much local as possible, we can reduce our meat intake, we can be conscious of our choices and do better where we live. We aren’t Polyface customers because we cant afford to be. So we are primarily vegetarians instead of eating lower quality meats. Elitism is not the question – reality is the question. I am interested in figuring out how to make sustainability available to, say, middle class suburban housewives (a demographic I understand at least a little, since it’s my demographic). How to take an ideology and turn it into a real functional thing that makes sense in context.