Joel Salatin in Petaluma

I had dinner last week with Joel Salatin, the farmer highlighted in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dillemma and featured in Food, Inc. Joel was two tables away and there were at least 100 other people also having dinner with him but if I leaned forward I could see the two chickens on his tie.

The event was a benefit for the CSA members of Tara Firma Farm of which I'm only an occasional, but excited, customer. The dinner of chicken, pork, butternut squash, beets, chard, salad greens, was entirely from the farms' harvest.

After the meal Joel talked about farming and being the lunatic farmer. He told a story about Gandhi's four steps for a revolution. "First they ignore you," he said. "Then they say you're crazy." He paused and looked around the room. I squeezed my husband's hand and we shared a look. I often feel like the odd person at the table.

"After that they fight you, and then you win." He made it sound easy.

"Right now, big ag, Monsanto, they are pushing back," he said and continued to talk about Michelle Obama's organic garden on the White House lawn. He'd had dinner with the White House chef, Sam Kass, and the story the chef told was that the organicness of the first garden was the cause of many upset calls throughout Washington. Joel threw his arms in the air pantomiming chaos. "Organic?"

He went on to talk about his farm and his neighbors farms. He told another story about a drought year and the fact that his farm stayed green. "Joel gets more rain," his next door neighbor told a friend. Joel shrugged his shoulders and reiterated a point he'd made earlier; "We see when we're ready to see."

"He doesn't get more rain, does he?" I whispered to my husband.

He shook his head no.

The talk ended with questions that could have gone on for hours. "If grass fed cows sequester carbon, why isn't that happening on a large scale?" "Is organic better than non-organic?" "What can we do to make a difference in our school lunch programs?"

He answered each question as if it were the first time he'd done so and ended the evening with this, "May your children call you blessed." I looked at my husband with wet eyes. He winked.

And then I came home and wrote a thank you note to the White House for the organic garden on the front lawn. Thanks to Joel Salatin and Tara Firms Farms I appreciate its crazy message of hope more than ever.


Carlie said...

How cool to meet him in person! What a lovely salutation and what an inspiring post. I wanna write a letter to the White House now.

JessTrev said...

I bet that was an amazing night. Thanks for reporting!

Eleanor said...

I love the Gandhi story. Funny, it never occurred to me that Joel was crazy -- maybe we all are, for wanting good food? I also love that you came away inspired to take personal action. That's what it takes. I think I'll write a note to Michele Obama too! Thanks for a great post.

Kale for Sale said...

Carlie: I hope you did write a letter to the WH. There are so many things to complain about it's nice to send an appreciation.

JessTrev: My pleasure. Thanks for reading.

Eleanor: I love the Gandhi story too. The first time I heard it Michael Pollan told it, which makes me wonder who told it first. Not that it matters, it's a good story.

Anonymous said...

YES. This is beyond awesome.
My husband jokes about going to Polyface and making Joel give him an apprenticeship or something. (He works in advertising :))


Kelly said...

lovely post kale! hey, are you and the cute guy married?! lol

Kale for Sale said...

Colleen - Go! At least for a visit. I want to go too and see the pigs rooting for corn through the manure after the cows have been in the barn all winter. Somehow the picture of Michael Pollan writing about that has never left me. I love that he has such a wide appeal.

Kelly - I'm busted. I must have been feeling grown up or something that I wrote husband instead of cute guy. He's still cute though.