Monday, November 23, 2009

Joel Salatin on Martha Stewart

Last week I saw a post on Allan Nation's blog saying that Joel Salatin would be on the Martha Stewart show. I don't watch Martha ... or much television in general (although there is a show I don't like to miss), but thankfully the segment was added to their website. If you have slow internet like I do you won't be able to watch this, but if you have access to a fast connection I would encourage you to check out this clip from last Thursday's show. Along with Mr. Salatin she also interviews Robert Kenner the man behind "Food, Inc."

In case you can't watch the clip here are some of the high points ... at least in mind ::
  • I feel that Mr. Salatin comes across as a guy that has his stuff together. He is very knowledgeable and can get his points across ... although he does use some big word combinations.
  • Although, he said it's possible to feed the U.S. from farms like his (and hopefully ours in time) I wish they would have gone a little deeper into that. I enjoy hearing as much on that subject as possible.
  • He is a funny guy with some of the things he says...
  • I really like this idea :: "The best way that I know is to actually take your recreational time ... and enjoy finding the farm treasures around your community." (Mr. Salatin said that) Good job Farm Crawl folks!
  • Final thought ... Mr. Salatin has moved from farmer to advocate and I think that is great. I realize that he still does the farming, but because of the success he has had I think he now as the opportunity to become a true advocate of local farmers and that he should continue to use the doors that are open to him.


Karen Deborah said...

very informative and your right about the advocacy job. somebody needs to do it!

Rich said...

I don't understand the linkage between corn and soybeans and buying your food from local farmers. Corn production of any kind is supposedly horrible for people, livestock, and the land, and the best solution is always buying local food from farmers that you have personal relationship with (not that there is anything wrong with that).

If a majority of pork, chicken, and eggs were raised on pasture, wouldn't it require almost the same amount of corn and soybeans as if they were raised in a confinement setting?

If that is the case, how would switching to a 'pasture-based' system like Salatin's change the current reliance on 'monocultures' of corn and soybeans, unless pork and chicken meat production was completely abandoned in favor of grass-fed beef production?

Wouldn't a better way of direct marketing a locally produced product be to explain how your product is higher quality or unique compared to what is typically sold?

Ethan Book said...

Rich - See, this is why I said I wished they had gone deeper into this particular aspect of the interview.

But, my guess on his take would be this ... he would like to see farms go back to the way they used to be. Diversified in all aspects. In our current agricultural system we ship inputs back and forth all over the country before we finally get to the end product.

I do agree though that we would use about the same amount of corn (although I'm sure some would disagree) if we moved to a pasture based system for pork and chickens (both meat and eggs). The biggest thing would be taking corn out of the diet of cattle and out of some of the products on the supermarket shelves ...

Of course I'm just guessing on all of that...

the byamcaravanner said...

I wish Martha would have spent less time trying to steer the comments to support her own agenda and let the guests explain their points of view. Joel Salatin is a master at boiling down these issues to their essence. One great point he was able to make was to suggest that rather than shopping their local supper markets (organic or not)viewers should spend their shopping time creating a relationship with their local farmers.

Chris said...

Good post and discussion... I've thought about this one a lot as well. I do think we could use significantly less corn and soybeans for pigs and chickens grown in pasture systems. 2 reasons:

1) Forage itself can make up a respectable portion of the dietary needs for pigs and chickens. Our chickens devour fresh grass on their daily moves.

2) There are bountiful alternatives to corn/soybeans for both pigs and chickens. Pigs "pastured" in the woods can get most of their caloric needs from nuts. And chickens can do well on cereal grains.

But then again, 100% of land being used for grass-fed beef doesn't sound too bad either. :). Would type more (and with higher quality), but am on a phone waiting for my wife's minivan in the shop.

Susan said...

Good discussion. We need more like it all over the world. As for the corn-soybean debate, organic grain is usually better because most organic producers are against GMOs, although once again you need to ask the people growing your food what they feed. Pasturing means animals need less of these products, and many producers are looking for healthier alternatives as protein sources. Our chickens eat a lot of bugs in the summer, which cuts down on grasshoppers, etc.
We are trying to sell grass-fed beef on our small place in Montana and would like to learn about CSAs.

Steven said...

On hogs and grain while on woods. Salatin says that he gets is able to offset $500 worth of hog feed per acre of woods per year by keeping the hogs rotating on woods instead of keeping them on a dry lot. Each wood paddock is only used for 30 days each year. His test to get this number was done in an area that he said was heavy in conifers too, so it may be better in more of an oak forest.

Rich said...

The only figures I have seen from Salatin about replacing grain with pasture (or woodland) is that 'he' was able to reduce the amount of grain he fed his pigs from an average of 10 lbs. a day to about 9 lbs. a day by grazing weaner pigs until they reached finish.

So he was able to save 1 lb. of grain per day per pig by rotationally grazing woodlands.

But, I have read that finishing pigs in a Swedish-styled deep bedded hoop house system requires about 7 lbs. of feed per day. So disregarding the pros and cons of housing pigs inside a hoop building, Salatin actually needs to feed more grain on his pasture than inside a hoop house.

So if the problem is defined as too much corn and other grains being grown (with its problems of erosion, government subsidies, etc.), how would that problem be solved by adopting Salatin's model of farming? At a minimum, wouldn't the same amount of corn and cropland be needed for pasture-based pork production?

Of course, a pig that is finished in a woodland setting results in a different finished product than a pig from a hoop house or a more confined setting, but that wasn't the problem that was addressed by the movie or Stewart.

the byamcaravanner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the byamcaravanner said...

The figures that Steven references can be found in this video -
Polyface Pigs 2

Yeoman said...

On Rich's first comment, I don't think corn production is inherently bad, it's the intensive modern industrial production that is criticized, perhaps over broadly.

Beyond that, however, there's no reason that switching to pasture would not result in reduced corn production in the case of cattle. Cattle do not need corn at all. It's an acquired taste, and desire for fattening, that results in corn being used to fatten cattle. But you can fatten them perfectly adequately on grass.

Pigs may be another deal. I don't know anything about pig production, although I don't think that you absolutely must use corn to fatten swine.

Rich said...

After doing a little reading, I guess I was mistaken on the amount of grain Salatin requires for his pigs.

After reading the following:

He needs to feed 9 lbs. of fermented grain when his pigs are 'pigaerating', but when they are on pasture (not sure if that is the same as his acorn glens) they need about 5 lbs. of free choice shelled corn per day.

Now my question is does that mean that the acorns replace 4 lbs. of corn per day, or does the pasture replace 4 lbs. of corn per day?

As someone that is considering adding pigs to the farm, if pigs were being raised in an area without a significant amount of acorns (or other nuts, etc.), how much feed would pasturing replace?

Steven said...

I don't know the answer to that Rich. There are a number of online arguments about that right now. But, I do think that any woods would probably have more food value to a hog than a grass pasture and I suspect more than even a legume pasture. Our one older gilt spent a few weeks last year on nothing but alfalfa, clover, and orchard grass and grazed it just like cows but I think that the nuts and roots that they would dig up in a forest would be very important.

Viagra Online said...

Hi thanks for sharing the video, I already watched, I missed the chance to watch it on live, but it doesn't matter I just watched the video, anyway it was a nice show and Martha and Joel had a good talk!

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