ROCKWELL: Good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And how great to have as our guest this morning, Mr. Joel Salatin. I guess, in a dark age of sort of industrial government farming and processed food and Big Agra, what we might think of as the analog and maybe connected in many ways to Big Pharma and other kinds of evil government doings, Joel really stands out as a shining light. He is, of course, first of all, a very successful farmer, beyond organic. We know that the organic question is actually a government-created category, so he's beyond organic from his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia. He's the author of eight books. I'm just going to give you three titles but we will, of course, link to his books. We'll link to his websites. He sells meats to restaurants and consumers; super-duper, grass-fed, healthy meat. So you'll be able to find out about that from his website. But just three of his books, Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healt...; also The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer; and Everything I Want to Do is Illegal – that's my favorite title – War Stories from the Local Food Front.
So, Joel, tell us, first of all, what's wrong with the way the whole government-directed industrial food empire operates, why that's not good for people, for the earth, for animals, for anything? Except the government, of course –
– and Monsanto and the rest of them.
SALATIN: Yes, well, I think it goes along with almost anything where you have government manipulation and penetration into freedom of choice, you're going to have a certain agenda; that agenda subsidized. And that agenda, of course, is generally not key to decentralization, independence, freedom, liberty and choice. It's generally keyed toward control, manipulation, regulation, and making sure people at the top get – (laughing) – get their bank account padded.
And so what we have right now is a system, for example, that says it's safe to feed your kids Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew but not safe to drink raw milk, eat compost-grown tomatoes and Aunt Matilda's pickles. We've got a system that subsidizes corn and soy beans. And I'm not interested in subsidizing anything else, but what that does is create an artificial price prejudice against all the things that aren't subsidized, whether they're organic, inorganic or local or otherwise. We have a system that gives a regulatory climate that is not scalable. It's scaled up very well but it doesn't scale down, therefore, it's very prejudicial for entry level entrepreneurs and small-scale business. The fact is that the market penetration skews the food landscape.
ROCKWELL: And, Joel, here we have a system where the government is running medical care, running everything about food, and yet people are getting sicker. Americans are always high-fiving ourselves and saying, we're the greatest people, the smartest, the freest, the nicest –
– you know, the richest and so forth, and the healthiest. But, of course, that's just a lie. Many of those things are a lie, of course.
SALATIN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, America leads the word in the five leading indicators of chronic illness, you know, type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart attack, childhood-onset leukemia. And now I think we lead the world in autism as well.
You know, the fact is that nature, if you will, the community of beings that make up the critters that are in our soil, in our intestines, floating around in the air, this community of beings has a P&L statement. It has its own profit-and-loss statement. And if we don't recognize its contribution to the physical world that we see, these shortcuts are going to come back to haunt us. And, of course, that's exactly what's happening.
ROCKWELL: Joel, the government is, of course, getting more totalitarian, it seems, day by day in every way. But now we have SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons arresting farmers for the crime of selling raw milk to willing consumers.
SALATIN: Well, yes. I call it a food inquisition. We are absolutely in the state of an inquisition. And, of course, an inquisition always follows an extremely, virulently held belief system. And the belief system in our current government/industrial food fraternity is that safety, salvation and health all emanate from Washington, D.C.
I actually don't have a problem even if a locality wanted to pass regulatory stuff on businesses and things like that. But the problem is, with the overarching reach of the federal government, it does not allow a community – for example, Sedgwick, Maine, passed a food sovereignty act that said, within the confines of Sedgwick, Maine, anyone who grows food, processes food and buys food can do business without any government intervention whatsoever. They were the first locality to do so. I think there are now three that have followed suit. And immediately, the federal and state governments came in, no, no, you can't do that; you can't decide who can and cannot sell food.
It really does come down to a sense to the basic philosophy that a government that can tell you what you can and cannot – prohibition, I guess, was the first big thing. A government that can tell you what you can and cannot eat will soon regulate every morsel of food. And, of course, if the government is responsible for your health, then obviously it has a reason to be responsible or concerned about what you do with your lifestyle. It all does come to, do we, indeed, have autonomy in our beings and, if not, then what – (laughing) – what else are we going to lose?
ROCKWELL: Not only are you a successful farmer and a writer, but you spend 100 days a year carrying this message to university groups, to environmental groups, maybe to farming groups. I don't know how – (laughing) – how open any of these are to hearing from you. But what kind of a reception are you getting?
ROCKWELL: Well, among – I'll just call them Sustainable Ag folks – I get a tremendous, tremendous reception. You know, our country is full of wanna-be entrepreneurs in the food system, from people that want to make quiche and serve it to their community, to people who want to make heavy soups or chicken broths or pot pies from their extra garden produce. Every community, food deserts in cities, urban sectors, there is so much latent entrepreneurialism.
Where I don't get a good response, of course and where I – (laughing) – don't get asked to speak very much, is to kind of conventional agriculture organizations and, of course, a lot of government organizations. They just can't believe that somebody who actually says he's an environmentalist – they just can't believe that an environmentalist would not also be a big governmenter (laughing). That's why I enjoy my moniker. I have myself described, Christian, Libertarian, environmentalist, capitalist lunatic because –
– that way I can help everybody understand, don't put me in a pigeon hole.
And, you know, let's take, for example, genetically modified organisms. I mean, that's a raging debate, the transgenic modification. And, of course, the unquestioned world leader in this is Monsanto. Some countries, of course, have banned GMOs; others haven't. But, you know, I find it pretty amazing that the conservatives have pretty much endorsed GMOs as, you know, entrepreneurism, innovation, creativity, blah, blah, blah. But this is a technique – this creates absolutely new mutant life forms that could never occur with standard breeding when the sexual plumbing matches, and has created brand new life forms that, by definition, you can't keep at home. And so, I guess, my sense is, we don't need laws against GMOs. We just need to enforce basic Magna Carta trespass laws. You're fist ends at my nose. And, you know, the fact that the courts of our land say that when Monsanto's life forms come over onto my farm and give me life forms that I have no desire to have, not only is Monsanto not liable, I am liable for patent infringement and must pay them a royalty for the privilege of using their life forms. It's outrageous.
ROCKWELL: And one of the things about conservative groups, and some Libertarian groups, too, especially those who are connected to neo-conservativism in D.C. and so forth, they're all in the pay of Monsanto, of Big Pharma, of other big industries. I mean, that's one of the reasons these people take the views they do, because they're being paid to do it.
SALATIN: Well, yes. I think Teddy Roosevelt said that it's awfully hard to get a person to believe something if he's getting paid to believe otherwise.
That's an adulteration. But, maybe, to see information when he's getting money to look the other way, or something like that.
ROCKWELL: But, I mean, even something like, say, Monsanto's Roundup, I mean, doesn't, like, every farmer in America use Roundup as a normal thing, but there are consequences to that?
SALATIN: Well, absolutely. And you know what? The beauty of pesticides and chemicals, if you want to call it a beauty, is at least when a farmer – a farmer can spray them on his own place or use them on his own place. Yes, there are such things as drift. And, in fact, in drift, where, you know, spray on a too-windy day, it goes on the neighbors, but even the most blatant industrial agriculture literature and seminars, they talk incessantly about, don't spray on a windy day, be very careful with it, blah, blah, blah. And that's a different story. These transgenic modified organisms, where they go on the pollen on the jet stream and impregnate things around the world with either sterility or strange life form traits, that's a – it's an inherently ubiquitous technology that cannot be kept home.
And, again, I think if, the very first time a farmer was subjected to this pollen, to new life forms that he didn't want, and Monsanto was liable for it, it would have changed things an awful lot.
ROCKWELL: I don't think we can emphasize – (laughing) – this too much. If these Frankenseeds, or whatever, drift over to your property, infect your land and your plants, you owe Monsanto money for that?
SALATIN: Yes. Yes. I mean, can you imagine somebody in a community with a male dog, who let him loose from his leash and he went through the community and bred 10 of his neighbor's female species, can you imagine all those 10 female species' owners going to the guy that released his male dog and paying him for genetic material? I mean – (laughing) – they'd get together and probably lynch him, you know.
And so this cavalier attitude toward a technology that is inherently, by its very nature – what shall we say – creates trespass sexual orgies, you know, that's a pretty amazing thought that nobody has a recourse, even in the courts of our land, including Obama, who planted an organic garden on the White House lawn. You know, he's the first one that's given the carte blanche for transgenic alfalfa, which is the first perennial. You know, it doesn't matter whether a Republican or a Democrats is in there. They're all owned by the big industrial people, and here we go.
And, again, again, for my Libertarian friends, I am not in favor of laws outlawing GMOs. You know, to my organic friends that sounds like, you know, straight from hell, but listen, hear me out. If we actually enforce trespass law, then it would be a moot point. We wouldn't need a regulation against GMO. The first time Monsanto's GMO came over to my farm, I wouldn't have to sue them. Actually, the local district attorney would take them to court just like any other trespass infraction. Just like any other bunch of teenage hoodlums that shot B.B.s through a bunch of windshields of cars, the car owners don't have to take them to court. It's the law of the land, it's the rule of law that takes them to court and says, you know, this isn't right to infringe on somebody else's property.
ROCKWELL: I must say I'm always struck by the naivety of – you're talking about some of the organic people and certainly many other kinds of groups that think that, here we are in a Fascist society, an increasingly Fascist society, a partnership between big government and big corporations against the rest of us, that somehow its possible to "pass a law" that will undo some aspect of that. I mean, the only thing we can ever hope to do is cut the size of government, and that's tough enough, of course, but to somehow reform this Fascist system into where it's going to be doing something against its own nature, how can anybody think that's a possibility?
SALATIN: Oh, boy, you hit the nail on the head, Lew (laughing). As you can imagine, I get into all kinds of situations where I'm in kind of an urban, liberal foodie setting, you know, and I'm rah, rah, you know, go local food and all this stuff. And then when you start bringing up these things like you're talking about with the SWAT teams going into to private food clubs and onto farms, confiscating heritage-based food that hasn't gone through the government licensing process, you know, I just shake my head because they always look at you with this most sincere, most sincere – it's beyond passion. It's just this utopian nirvana dream, and they get this dreamy look and say, oh, but if we just had good people in government. You know?
It we could just get good people in government, it would be fine. And so they spend their time lobbying for laws that – these are good people. And they just want good people in there. But power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the fact is that the more salvation you ask from the government – the government that can give you freedom, can also take them away. And that's why we have "in-alienable" rights. People always say in "alienable rights." They're actually "un-alienable." A "lien" is something that somebody can put on you as a result of your indebtedness to them. So I like the term "un-alienable." These are rights that the government has no lien on. They can't put a lien on any of these rights.
And the right to be secure in your own person absolutely must include the right to freedom of food choice. If I want to eat what I want to eat, I should be able to do it. If I want to take care of my own health care and not participate in the government system, I should be able to do that. And, you know, if we don't have the right to be secure and make decisions for our own personhood, then can anything else be far behind, from freedom of religion, to press, or anything else?
ROCKWELL: So, Joel, for people who are listening to you today and they're concerned about the things we're concerned about in terms of government power in all areas, including in the food business, and they'd like to – if they'd like to at least explore changing their lifestyle, what do they do? What do they read? What's the beginning of this? How do you proceed? It seems like maybe a very tough thing to do –
ROCKWELL: – but it's actually not so tough, is it?
SALATIN: Well, no. I mean, there are a couple of things. One is, if you're politically savvy at all, then you should just go ahead and join the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. This is modeled after the home school legal defense association of 30 years ago that absolutely won the right for Americans to home school their kids. And I'm not here to promote – we happened to home school our kids. But, you know, home schooling for me.
SALATIN: Thank you. Yes, we home schooled ours and our grandchildren are now being home schooled.
But my point is not to promote home schooling as much as it is to just put out there that, had we not had the HSLDA, to create some wiggle room for families who were being carted off to jail for truancy violations, this home-school movement would never have been able to gain the traction it did to actually get some legislative relief.
We are, in our food system today, exactly where home schooling was 30 years ago, with exactly the same issues. Back then, it was who owns the child. Today it's, who owns me. Back then, it was freedom of education. Today, it's freedom for food. Back then, it was, do I have educational autonomy. Today, it's, do I have food autonomy. Back then, it was, we have to snuff this out in order to keep jails and hospitals from being overcrowded by, you know, social deviants and, you know, ignorant boobs who are not getting an education. Now, it's, we've got to snuff out freedom of food choice in order to keep hospitals from being filled with people who are sick from eating Aunt Matilda's pickles and drinking raw milk. So the issues are essentially identical.
And the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund – you can just Google FCLDF and it'll come right up – is a national organization with real-time legal counsel for these farmers that are facing SWAT teams and what I call the food inquisition. And it's the beginning of what I call a food emancipation proclamation. What we need to do legislatively is to create a food emancipation proclamation to free up direct producer/consumer/food commerce from government licensure wherever it may happen.
Now, the second thing you can do is to begin opting out of the industrial government food system. That means grow some of your own food. It means get in your kitchen. It means turn off the TV and go and cancel the Disney vacation, and take and invest in your local farm treasure community. Every area has wonderful, wonderful farmers who are producing everything from flour to meat to vegetables and fruit. And all it takes is a little bit of sleuthing and you will find that wonderful non-governmental community in your area. Patronize them.
Many of these farmers are struggling to make ends meet. They're facing, you know, over-burdensome government regulations, workman's comp forms, liability insurance up the wazoo, and they're desperate for a few more dollars in business. Let your dollars flow to them. Kick the supermarket habit. Take control of your own food supply. And we're going to make a different country one food decision at a time. We haven't gotten where we are overnight. We won't get out of where we are overnight. Where we are is a compilation of billions and billions of little decisions made over several decades while we were putting our faith in Velveeta cheese and Procter & Gamble and Monsanto. We will extricate ourselves – (laughing) – the same way, not from the top down, but from the bottom up with billions and billions of alternative decisions.
ROCKWELL: Joel Salatin, thank you for the leadership that you've provided in this. Thanks for coming on today. You're an inspiration.
SALATIN: Thank you for having me, very much, Lew.
Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There's a link on the upper right-hand corner of the LRC front page. Thank you.