Dancing with dinner

Thursday February 3 2011


Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, who was featured in the national bestseller The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, will give two lectures, Monday, Feb. 14, in Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center.

Salatin will deliver the Senior Symposium lecture on "Dancing with Dinner" at noon and give a Science Gang talk at 4:30 p.m. on "Everything I Want To Do is Illegal." Both talks are open to the public but the noon lecture has limited seating.

Polyface Farms is a multi-generational, pasture-based, local-market farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley that services more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey, and forestry products.

Salatin, 53, is the author of six books on sustainable farming. Polyface Inc. has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Gourmet, and countless other radio, television, and print media. Profiled on the Lives of the 21st Century series with Peter Jennings on ABC World News, his after-broadcast chat room fielded more hits than any other segment to date.

In "Dancing with Dinner," Salatin describes how industrial food is aesthetically and aromatically unpleasant from production to supermarket. Although eating is arguably the most intimate thing humans do, during the last few decades Americans have lost their dinner dance partner. Culinary skills and local food connections have been replaced with "No Trespassing" signs, bureaucratic paperwork, unpronounceable labels, bar codes, and beeping cash registers. The soul-satisfying act of eating is now a sterile, manufactured to-do item consumed on the run.

In "Everything I Want To Do is Illegal," Salatin says the single biggest impediment to eating healtheir is the demonizing and criminalizing of virtually all indigenous and heritage-based food practices. From zoning to labor to food safety to insurance, local food systems face a phalanx of regulatory hurdles designed and implemented to police industrial food models that end up wiping out appropriate-scaled local food systems. A call for guerrilla marketing, food choice freedom legislation, and empirical pathogen thresholds offers solutions to these bureaucratic hurdles.