Thursday, June 18, 2009

Joel's visit to Washington

"If you just looked inside the USDA, you would find tremendous support
for local food," said Senator Mark
Udall to me yesterday, June 17. I responded: "I have looked, and it's
not a pretty picture . . . " then somebody cut
off my microphone and that was the end.

I think I have reached the nadir of my trust in government. Some
background: a couple of months ago, I received
an invitation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to paticipate in
the Green Jobs Leadership Summit hosted by the
Senate Democratic Caucus in the Russell Senate Office Building. His
invitation read: "This half-day event will feature
discussions focused on creating clean energy jobs and supporting the
new green economy. Because of your company's
leadershi8p in the clean energy and green manufacturing industries,
Senator Webb [Va. Senator Jim Webb] has nominated
you to represent Virginia at the Green Jobs Leadership Summit." A
breakfast reception would begin at 8 a.m.

I received a duplicate invitation directly from Sen. Webb. Smelling a
rat (partisans backslapping and me a member of
a voiceless mob) I contacted Sen. Webb's office for clarification and
was assured that I might even have five minutes with
Vice President Joe Biden, but surely I would have plenty of face time
with senators. Each senator was allowed one nominee,
and I was Webb's representative. That was kind of cool, and with a
total potential of 100 people from across the U.S., this
sounded like indeed it might be something where I could get my message
to some high levels.

So yesterday morning I left the house a little after 3:30 a.m. and
traveled to Washington. I arrived and went immediately
to the breakfast, which was chalk milk, ice water, coffee, orange
juice, bagels, and hydrogenated pastries. Breakfast? Where
is the raw milk, local apple juice, bacon, sausage, pastured eggs? I
settled for ice water.

The room was surrounded by slick corporate poster advertisements for
for alternative energy manufacturers, supported
by a cadre of CEOs and their staffs. Hardly enough room to move
around. Soon we were told to find our seats and Sen. Debbie
Stabenow convened the meeting. The front table was cordoned off and
guarded by security until VP Joe Biden came. He
spoke about the wonderful things the stimulus package was doing, then
shook hands with about 8 senators in a reserved
section, then was quickly whisked away. So much for face time.

What followed were two panels, primarily senators, simply giddy over
how they were rescuing the country. The senators
would flow in for their 1 minute of clapping praise from the industry
audience, then gave 3 minutes of Democratic salvation
exuberance, then quickly left for more important matters. Once each
panel finished their preramble (Ha!) monologues, just
a few minutes were left for the lucky few who could navigate to the
microphone in a nearly unreachable corner to ask questions
and make comments to the panel.

Since we were out of time by the time this was allowed, three or more
people would give their comments and then
someone from the panel would respond--always about how we needed to do
more. I finally realized that this was all about
the Democrats (I'm sure Republicans do it all the time too) convening
industry people to become their political cloud to shove
through the Democratic agenda.

No face time. No interaction. I was just supposed to listen, catch
the euphoria bug, and leave elated and thankful that
the Democrats were finally in charge. Of course, I don't think the
Republicans would be any better, but the postulating and
self aggrandizement was both disgusting and palpable. Anyway, I
finally decided to leave at the end of the second panel.
As I walked out, I realized I had navigated to the end of the comment
line and since only 6 people were in front of me, I might
actually get to say something. So I waited.

`And they got to me. Here is the best I remember what I said:

I'm amazed that after half a day of talk about green jobs and energy,
I have not heard the word food, the word farm, or
the word agriculture. I represent the local food movement and the
pastured livestock movement, and we are tried of being
marginalized, criminalized, and demonized by the USDA and this
government. I'm a bioterrorist for letting my chickens
run in the pasture. What good is it to have the freedom to own a gun,
assemble, or worship if I can't choose the fuel to feed
my internal 3 trillion member community of bacteria to give me the
energy to go shoot, pray, or preach? I propose that we
have a Constitutional Amendment that allows every American citizen the
right to choose their food. Government bureaucrats
should not come between my mouth and my 3 trillion member internal

`Other speakers had waxed on about health care and all sorts of
things. I couldn't have talked more than one minute,
when Sen. Udall interrupted with: "If you just looked inside the USDA,
you would find tremendous support for local food."
I was the only speaker interrupted, the only one who mentioned food,
farming, or agriculture, and the only one who didn't
ask for more government money. And when I responded that I had looked
inside and it was not a pretty picutre . . . they
cut my microphone off. Enough of you, Salatin. We don't want your
type around here.

Thus endeth Mr. Salatin going to Washington. I think I'll write some
more books.

By Joel Salatin

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fresh now available through Polyface!

FRESH documentary producer Ana Joanes has given Polyface a special a pre-release offer of the DVD for a mere $15. It will not be available elsewhere, except at Growing Power, for at least a couple of months.
If you need a copy shipped by mail to you or a friend, please mail us a check for $18 to cover shipping & handling fees. Be sure to include your shipping address.

One of the reasons the Salatins appreciate this film is because it truly captures the spirit and joy of Polyface. We think anyone who wants to feel great about participating in the local and heritage food revolution will love to see this documentary and share it with friends. We're offering you a headstart on being able to see and enjoy this wonderful film. Go for it!

Excerpt from the back cover:

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

FRESH addresses an ethos that has been sweeping the nation and is a call to action America has been waiting for.

Have you seen it already? What was your thoughts on the movie? Leave a comment and let us know.
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