America’s food production system is killing us. It relies on the use of fossil fuels, chemicals, growth hormones and antibiotics, and on production and farming practices that erode the soil and deplete the groundwater.An entirely different approach to food production can be glimpsed at Polyface Farm in central Virginia, where Joel Salatin’s Christian faith informs the way he farms and, to the best of his ability, honors the animals.
Every year around this time, the fescue pastures surrounding my home become suddenly colorful, as the purple heads of nodding thistles (Carduus nutans) break through the waves of green. As lovely as they are—and as much as the goldfinches love them—this is not good news, since it means that next fall’s hay will be full of thorns.
In 1977 Wendell Berry warned that the rise of corporate farming and the disappearance of the family farm were destroying local communities and economies. These developments also caused soil erosion, and reduced the quality of the food we eat.