I don't ask for a dime of government money. I don't ask for government accreditation. I don't want to register my animals with a global positioning tattoo. I don't want to tell officials the names of my constituents. And I sure as the dickens don't intend to hand over my firearms. I can't even use the 'U' word.
On every side, our paternalistic culture is tightening the noose around those of us who just want to opt out of the system, and it is the freedom to opt out that differentiates tyrannical and free societies.
How a culture deals with its misfits reveals its strength. The stronger a culture, the less it fears the radical fringe. The more paranoid and precarious a culture, the less tolerance it offers.
When faith in our freedom gives way to fear of our freedom, then silencing the minority view becomes the operative protocol. The Native Americans silenced after Little Big Horn simply wanted to worship in their beloved Black Hills, use traditional medicinal herbs to cure diseases, educate their children in the ways of their ancestors, and live in portable homes rather than log cabins. By that time these people represented absolutely no threat to the continued Westernization and domination of the North American continent by people who educated, vocated, medicated, worshiped, and habitated differently.
But coexistence was out of the question. Just like the forces that succeeded in making it illegal for me to use the âOâ word, the Western success at Wounded Knee quashed the little guy. What does the Organic Trade Association have to fear from me using the 'O' word? If society really wants government certification, my little market share will continue to deteriorate into oblivion. If, however, the certification effort represents a same-old, same-old power grab by the elitists to exterminate the fringe play-ers, it is merely another example of fear replacing faith.
Faith in what? Faith in diversity. Faith in each other. Faith in people's ability to self-educate, thereby making informed decisions. Faith in seekers to find answers. Faith in marketplace dynamics to reward integrity and not cheating. Faith in Creation to heal. Faith in healthy plants and animals to withstand epizootics. Faith in earthworms to increase fertility. Faith in communities to function efficiently and honorably without centralized beltway interference. Faith in Acres U.S.A. to arrive every month with a cornucopia of insight and information.
Our culture's current fear of bioterrorism shows the glaring weakness of a centralized, immunodeficient food system. This weakness leads to fear. Demanding from on high that we irradiate all food, register every cow with government agencies, and hire more inspectors does not show strength. It shows fear.
Indeed, official policy views all these minority production and marketing systems that have been shown faithful over the centuries to be instead things that threaten everyone and everything. As a teepee dwelling, herb healing, home educating, people loving, compost building retail farmer, I represent the real answers, but real answers must be eradicated by those who seek to build their power and fortunes on a lie, the lie being that genetic integrity can be maintained when corporate scientists begin splicing DNA. The lie that, as Charles Walters says, toxic rescue chemistry is better than a balanced biological bath. The lie that farms are disease-prone, unfriendly, inhumane places and should be zoned away from people.
Those of us who would aspire to opt out, both consumers and producers, must pray for enough cleverness to circumvent the system until the system cannot sustain itself. Cycles happen. Because things are this way today does not mean they will be this way next year. Hurrah for that.
Often, the greatest escapes occur at the moment the noose becomes tightest. I'm feeling the rope, and it's not very loose. Society seems bound and determined to hang me for everything I want to do. But there's power in truth. And for sure, surprises are in store that may make society shake its collective head and begin to question some seemingly unalterable doctrines. Doctrines like the righteousness of the bureaucrat. The sanctity of government research. The protection of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. The helpfulness of the USDA.
When that day comes, you and I can graciously offer our society honest food, honest ecology, honest stewardship. May the day come quickly.
Joel Salatin raises grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, rabbits and more on a model diversified farmstead, Polyface Farm, in Virginiaâs Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of Salad Bar Beef, Pastured Poultry Profits, You Can Farm, and Family Friendly Farming, available from Acres U.S.A. for $30 each, plus shipping and handling. To order, call 1-800-355-5313 or visit our website .
Acres U.S.A. is the national journal of sustainable agriculture, standing virtually alone with a real track record â over 30 years of continuous publication. Each issue is packed full of information ecoconsultants regularly charge top dollar for. Youâll be kept up-to-date on all of the news that affects agriculture â regulations, discoveries, research updates, organic certification issues, and more.
âThe greatest moral issue of our time
is our responsibility to the planet
and to all its inhabitants.â
Â New York Times editorial, 3/10/07