Salad Bar Beef

The Guru of Grass

Have you heard of Joel Salatin? Salatin of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia? Joel is the Guru of Grass.

We count Joel as a friend and a teacher. After reading his book, Salad Bar Beef, we signed up for a weekend at his farm where he taught us everything we needed to know about poly-cultural livestock farming. Joel is the modern father of the grass-fed movement, rotating beef, chicken, turkeys, rabbits and pork on the farm he inherited from his parents and a frequent contributor to related publications.

Joel writes in the recent edition of Acres USA about what he calls the “working landscape”. His thrust is that while overworking our parks, ranches and farms is devastating, abandoning them is just as bad. I agree. Our soil needs to be in an exercise/rest cycle at all times, and the only trick is how much of each, not whether one is preferred over the other. Joel’s best example is pruning - if you prune your peach tree, it doesn’t hinder but instead stimulates growth. The same thing happens when a cow grazes grass.

Don’t turn our greatest resource into a couch potato.

Joel also comments on the criticism that grass-fed beeves emit methane and contribute to global warming. For that matter, so do humans, right? Doesn’t mean that humans and beeves need be removed from the planet. Here’s Joel’s response: The accusation doesn’t mention that a fertile grass pasture traps and converts more carbon per acre than a similarly situated old or new-wood forest. And 95% of the planet’s natural methane emissions come not from ruminant animals but from wetlands. Want to drain the wetlands? I doubt it. Is methane emission a new burden on the planet? Of course not. The buffalo population alone far outnumbered the largest cattle numbers ever grazed in the U.S. And that doesn’t count the deer, the elk, the moose, and the smaller critters that emit methane and always have.

The things people say...and think they can get away with!