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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Author Salatin advocates for conscious food choices to benefit community

<el Salatin, farmer, author and owner of Polyface Farm, opened his convocation speech last Friday by expressing his distress with current times. A self-proclaimed “alternative, environmental capitalist lunatic farmer,” Salatin first shot to fame when featured in Michael Pollan’s 2006 bestselling book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” in which he adamantly argued the need to change our perspective on the current state of food production and its effects on the environment. In his presentation titled “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” Salatin highlighted the need for humans to seriously re-evaluate what they are doing to the planet, arguing that “we’re not viscerally involved with the processes of life” on earth. He outlined several aspects of a “normal future.” The current American culture “thinks it’s so technologically capable and clever that it can just ignore how we’re just a tiny blip on the horizon – that we are doing something highly unusual in history,” he said.

Emphasizing the importance of increased participation in growing food, Salatin claimed, “you can’t solve chronic hunger with food banks.” He lamented that people often openly disregard the crucial relationship with the “invisible community” of bacteria and organisms that surround them. “Our biggest problem is that we never consider this community on our business plans,” he said. “We marginalize the very community that our whole existence is utterly dependently on.” Salatin also spoke of the importance of food choice. In an era with food deserts and subsidized food production, Salatin argues that “we’ve essentially created a food and economic apartheid; residents live in specific places completely segregated from where food production happens.” He lamented that the bureaucratic hoops one must jump through tp grpw food – obtaining specific licenses and passing checks by governmental agencies – compromise the choices of foods one can actually select and eat. “Instead, what we’ve got today are shelves of reconfigurations of food products,” he said. “We have an abundance of choice, but no real choice.” In addition, he pointed out that a normal future will see a greater portion of our income spent on food. “What’s highly abnormal is that we spend just nine percent of our income – time and attention in addition to cash – on food,” Salatin said, arguing that we strongly need to divert money from irrelevant areas, such as celebrity Hollywood culture and financing wars overseas, to help enhance honest and high-quality food production. “The money is all here in the system,” he said. “It’s just a matter of cultural choice.” Salatin strongly emphasized the need to “come to the profound realization that this modern American way isn’t normal.” He claimed people are highly removed from the food system, simply consuming without actively appreciating what is eaten and how it was grown. “We’ve really got to get passionate and spend more time in the kitchen and appreciate the art of culinary preparation,” Salatin said.

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