We visited Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia this past September. We took, what they call, their Lunatic Tour, a two-hour tour over their beautiful, rolling hills farm. It was a lovely, sunny, warm day. One of the tourists was a beautiful lady from Africa who farmed chickens, and was interested in the way Joel Salatin raises his. Another tourist, a gentleman, was from Israel. It seems this is normal at Polyface, having interested folks visiting from all over the world.
We heard about this farm several years ago from our son and daughter-in-law who live in Charlottesville . They purchase Polyface meat from various places around town. It sounded very interesting, but got lost in the shuffle of life. A couple months ago, however, some guests came to tour the house where I work in Winchester. They had visited Polyface the day before coming to visit us. The enthusiasm of those ladies surely sparked the interest, as I re-heard all the non-usual operations done at the farm. The way they manage their animals, the wide, wonderful variety of animals they have, how they manage the land, it all struck a chord this time. I am sure it is because we now have cattle, and more land for other animals as well. I immediately ordered two books written by Joel Salatin that the ladies told me I would enjoy. He has written around 10 books on farming, raising pasture fed beef, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, pork, and farmland management.
After blazing through The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, I signed up for the Lunatic tour. There were about 100 visitors the day we were there. Two tractors with two attached wagons to each tractor and straw bales going down the middle of each wagon as seats for us, and a big cooler full of ice cold water (how thoughtful!) was ready and waiting to escort us around the farm. Joel drove one of the tractors, and led the tour. The other tractor was driven by an intern.
The tour was informative and encouraged us to re-think how we eat, where our food comes from, how is it raised, managed and processed. Joel Salatin is an informed, passionate farmer, and is a first-rate steward of his farm/land/animals. He knows his business, he is willing to share his knowledge with interested folks, and he signed my books! His farm is worth the visit for those that are interested in the quality of food you eat. If a visit is not possible, get on his website and purchase his books. Two movies we recommend are: Food, Inc., and King Corn. Be forewarned, they will change the way you look at food.
Know the farmer, know the farm, know where your food comes from, or even grow some of your own food! Here is a good rule of thumb: if you are not allowed to visit the place where your food is raised, you may not want to eat it. This goes for both meat and vegetables.