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By Rob Archangel, staff writer

Party people, what’s happening? Rob here again. ?As Matty mentioned in the comments of the last post, he’s finishing up a project and on the road until July 16th, so I’ll be stepping in for a few days giving a roundup of the Real Food Summit.

Caught Joel Salatin’s talk, and as usual, Salatin was pretty rad. I used to live in The Shanandoah Valley of Virginia, about 30 miles from PolyFace Farm, and he’s a big deal down there. People love him or hate him. ?Given that that region is home to lots and lots of industrial food processors, and a huge chunk of the local economy goes through companies like Purdue, he strikes a lot of people as threatening.

He makes some really good points about approaching farming and eating food holistically, and the difference in mindset it creates when we can rely on animals we husband to perform valuable functions, and not just be walking prime ribs and steak. ?His cows and herbivores prune the perennials, increase biomass and spread fertility. Pigs are great for rooting land and getting it ready for new growth. ?Yeah, the animals get eaten eventually, but they have valuable roles and their behavior is as important, maybe more important, than their carcasses. It contributes to a more reverential relationship.

He’s also pretty insistent about getting out of the supermarket and sourcing food direct from farmers and integrity producers. I dig that, but I’m leery of the ways that feeds into fanaticism. I know it did for me. For years, under various guises, I stressed a lot about what sorts of food I ate, whether it was vegan or WAPF-style, or low-carb paleo or stridently locavore. ?Having gone for the last year or so eating lots more supermarket food, lots more palatable refined food, than I have in a long time, and seen either no change to my health or benefits, I think there’s something to be said for the power of de-stressing and letting food play a supporting rather than primary role in my life. ?All that said, I still support deliberate sourcing and finding food with integrity, especially if it brings joy rather than guilt or stress into your life.

Paul Chek is one of today’s speakers, and looks to be interesting. Seems like he’ll be riffing on some similar themes as Salatin- the importance of healthy soil as a foundation to healthy humans. Seems clear to me that we’re not isolated and apart from the bigger world, natural as well as social, and addressing troubles in one area can create benefit elsewhere too. Like the John Muir quote:

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

I plan to *Chek* that talk out. (See what I did there? Haha)

Until next time, amigos.