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.

7 Responses to “The world’s worst sanctuary”

  1. Jim

    Agreed. I am not a fan of Salatin at all. How the violence of slaughtering animals be in any way compatible with “peace” is beyond me.

    Just look at his ridiculous and insulting answer when asked about vegetarians in Mother Earth News:

  2. romulusnr

    “Are you proposing to slaughter our tenants?!”
    “…Does that not fit in with your plans?”

  3. Bea Elliott

    From Mother Earth News: “Actually, the 7- to 12-year old children have no problem slitting throats”… No! Please say it isn’t so! And if it is – what a sorry time we’ll have as seniors someday. I dread thier “compassion” while I’m in “Depends”. :(

  4. Lazurii

    His comments in Mother Earth News are appalling! I hate the feeling that most flesh farmers have, “If those vegetarians just saw how well I took care of my animals, they would convert!”

    I grew up on a small family farm. We raised enough animals for us and some relatives. I have slaughtered my own animals. And, guess what, I’m vegan now! I had a chance to grow up with “humane” slaughter, and I still moved away from it.

    And, frankly, I think it shows moral deficiency when flesh farmers don’t show emotion to slaughter. My dad, who still butchers animals, still tears up when his does it. He has even considered moving to a more vegetarian life, but there’s a lot of complicated issues with the rest of the family about it.

    So, to wrap up that ramble, I’m disgusted by this guy. He runs no sanctuary. Yes, the animals may have a better life leading up to their slaughter, but it ends in violence just the same.

  5. Chris

    Interesting use of the word sanctuary. I imagine if he ever had to seek actual political sanctuary himself, he’d have a completely different idea of what that would entail.

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