I have read three books by Joel Salatin, who has become famous as “the lunatic farmer.” He is a Christian environmentalist farmer, which is why 'lunatic' sort of fits. Christians don't usually associate with environmentalists, and environmentalists do not often associate with Christians. Throw farming into the mix and everyone is confused. I enjoyed reading “Folks, This Ain't Normal” the most, if you want to try one out.
Recently I discovered that his Christian environmentalist farm has a DVD produced called Polyfaces. You can buy a copy at www.polyfaces.com if so inclined. This is my review of the DVD. I could not find it on Amazon so you have to get it direct, I think. The packaging does not give the length, nor do I see it listed on the website. I would guess it may be 60 to 90 minutes.
Polyfaces is an upbeat, encouraging documentary about Polyface Farm in Virginia. This farm became famous when Michael Pollan wrote about it in his bestselling book “The Omnivore's Dilemma.” Pollan is also featured on the DVD a few times.
I write about Polyface Farm a few times in my new book “God's Animals,” also. I cite Joel Salatin frequently, because he has become a sort of 'guru' regarding organic farming methods and success. Polyface Farm practices holistic farming, you might say. They avoid fertilizers, and use cattle of various kinds to produce manure to build up the soil and grow the crops. It is what I call a “Grace Place,” because proper and biblical stewardship of land and animals is practiced. There is no cruelty or negligence regarding life or food.
Polyface Farm is exactly the opposite of a “normal” industrial farm where the vast majority of your meat and foods come from. Industrialization conquered agriculture a century ago, and took over animal husbandry fifty years ago. Now almost all that we eat is processed, and treated with cruelty, in the case of meat. I sympathize with vegetarians who avoid meat for moral reasons. The modern meat production system is a spawn of Satan and evil. However, Polyface Farms produces all kinds of meat without cruelty.
That is the one point of caution for viewers: there are a few animals killed on camera, during demonstrations of the Polyface meat production. I remember chickens, turkeys, and rabbits being killed. It is a bit disturbing for the faint of heart, but it is not cruel. It is simply something you don't often see. Industrialists hide their processes out of shame and the grotesque nature of their methods. Polyface does it properly.
Most of the DVD is entirely peaceful and fun. I learned a lot about farming practices and it did remind me of my grandfather's beef cows and chicken coops.
Salatin and family are Christians and that comes out mainly toward the end of the program.
Probably the most encouraging thing, to me, was the demonstrated impact of Polyface Farm on other farmers. The idea is spreading, and being practiced by new and reforming farmers around the US.
The big agribusiness companies lie; claiming that the world could never survive on organic farming. Polyface produces enough to feed 6000 people, if I remember the number correctly. And it produces all of that food without chemicals or cruelty, and produces better soil without exploiting it. There are no giant cesspools of animal poo; no horrible stenches covering neighborhoods; and the farm is open for public viewing. Cameras are welcome there because there is nothing to hide.
I recommend the DVD Polyfaces to everyone interested in seeing how a farm should and could work.