The world’s worst sanctuary


“What is the essence of pig?” Virginia farmer Joel Salatin asked an audience of about 200 University students and Charlottesville residents last Thursday.

Dubbed “high priest of the pasture” by The New York Times, Salatin said life for his pigs is a “Hog Heaven.” His 550-acre farm, Polyface, Inc., is like an animal sanctuary, he said…

Sounds pretty nice, right?

Until you read the second paragraph of “Holy cow!” from The Cavalier Daily (VA) in full:

Dubbed “high priest of the pasture” by The New York Times, Salatin said life for his pigs is a “Hog Heaven.” His 550-acre farm, Polyface, Inc., is like an animal sanctuary, he said, created to produce high-quality pork, beef and poultry that his consumers can trust.

Wash my mouth out with vegan soap, but: what the fuck?

It gets worse:

As he describes in his latest book, “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven,” Salatin believes that the journey “from farm to fork” is a sacred one. Beginning the lecture with a quote from the Book of Genesis, he said the road to success in the agricultural world is rooted in Christianity. The reflection of Christian values onto the land and the happiness of the animals is one of the main focuses of Polyface, Inc., Salatin said.

A self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic-beyond-organic farmer,” Salatin promotes six principles he believes every farmer should follow: order, forgiveness, peace, relationships, honesty, humility and healing. These principles develop a peaceful, beautiful environment and a food system consumers can appreciate.

So, apparently the ideas of “peace” and “healing” involve slaughtering animals based on something in scripture and then selling it as happy meat.

“I’m in the healing industry,” Salatin said. In his opinion, healing is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of farming, meant to nurture the land and livestock with the utmost care and respect. His ultimate goal is not to increase productivity and efficiency, but to “make an animal sanctuary.”

Dude, if you want to build an animal sanctuary, build a place where animals, you know, have sanctuary.

If he was just promoting happy meat, that probably wouldn’t even be worth mentioning here. But Salatin’s assertion that what he provides for animals is “sanctuary” is offensive to the truly compassionate people that run actual animal sanctuaries, the people that do what they do for the animals and not for the financial benefit that comes from their death.

I think I’ll close with this quote from Salatin, a question he should ask himself a little more carefully:

“There is a respectful, righteous way and an evil way to produce — which one are we feeding?” Salatin asked.

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I thought it had been a few weeks since my last post, and I chalked it up to a summer vacation from the blog. Then I looked and realized my last post was at the end of July. Yikes.

I have a bunch of longer posts lined up to get things back into gear, but let me just start you with an amusing dream I had the other night.

I was hanging out at Food Fight chatting with some folks there about how I was thinking about moving to Portland (in real life, I’m not, but if I were moving to the west coast, it would be my first choice). Then all of a sudden, Chad comes over and drops an almost cartoonishly large ham hock in my lap. I almost jump out of my seat, but then realize that, of course, it was a giant vegan ham hock. A mock hock, if you will.

Hey, they carry vegan haggis, so it could happen!