Joel Salatin: Can We Feed the World?

“Nobody goes hungry because there’s not enough food. Consider that we are the most overfed but under-nourished country…

“Nobody goes hungry because there’s not enough food. Consider that we are the most overfed but under-nourished country in history. It’s not a matter of production. Every day we throw away enough food to feed the planet in its entirety.”

Joel Salatin never disappoints – he always scintillates when he presents at Wanderlust, and not just because he’s impassioned and incredibly well-informed. He presents facts about mundane things – dirt, farms, food – in a way you’d never considered before and makes you realize how out of balance our current assumptions about the food chain are. So when he delves into the question, “Can We Feed The World?” you can bet he has some information and opinions that will change the way you think about what you eat and where it comes from.

First, he debunks many early studies done on “organics” that concluded they were ineffectual by decrying that, “When the UN or some PhD professor studies the existing system, [they miss that] the existing system is completely broken. So the data is making the assumption of an assault on ecology rather than studying a system that is a massage or a caresser of this ecological wound. And so, when you open the newspaper and see the scientific reports, the data is skewed — it is wrong.”

From there, he jumps into the reasons underlying the problems inherent in feeding the world, elaborating on:

  • Biomimicry and why a mechanical view of life misses out on the important biological viewpoint of life,
  • Why the “how to grow it bigger, faster, fatter, cheaper” mentality has got it all wrong,
  • How the human choice to mate horses with donkeys represents the short-sightedness of genetically-modified “evolution,”
  • How the linear methods of design and evaluation totally miss out on the “whole” that is intrinsic to ecological studies,
  • How an Austrian chemist launched the chemical view of agriculture,

Ultimately, Salatin’s conclusion that backyard gardens and multi-speciation are far more productive per acre is important, but just as valuable are the tools and facts he shares with you to be able to articulate your own credible “feed the world” argument.