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Omnivore’s Dilemma Chapter 8

December 5, 2008


greener pastures, originally uploaded by Nurse Love Gash.

Chapter 8 is the beginning of the Pastoral Grass Section. In this chapter Michael gets the chance to visit and help out at Polyface Farms. There Michael gets to see the symbiotic relationship between animals and grass in action.

Polyface Farms believes in raising a half dozen different animals to create a natural rotation that is better for the land and the animals (including humans) that live off of it. For example before the pasture grass is cut down for winter hay it is grazed on by beef cattle that turn this lush landscape into beef at the rate of two or three pounds a day . After each day of cow grazing the hen are brought in. They play a crucial role for both the grass and the cattle. They “pick the tasty grubs and fly larvae out of cowpats, in the process spreading the manure and eliminating parasites.” They also deposit a thousand or so pounds of nitrogen after which they produce rich and healthy eggs. By the end of the season these pastures will have been “transformed by animals into some 25,000 pounds of beef, 50,000 pounds of pork, 12,000 broilers, 800 turkeys, 500 rabbits, and 30,000 dozen eggs.”

In comparison to a factory farm this may not seem like a lot but when you realize that even after producing this vast array the land is lusher and more fertile you realize how special this farm is. And yet it doesn’t need to be, there is no secret formula for Salatin’s success rather he follows a natural cycle that is as old as time.

Chapter 1-3 The Plant: Corn’s Conquest, The Farm, & The Elevator
Chapter 4 The Feedlot: Making Meat
Chapter 5-6 The Processing Plant: Making Complex Foods & The Consumer: A Republic of Fat
Chapter 7 The Meal: Fast Food

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2008 12:29 pm

    Great post 🙂

    Chickens are really good at pecking and scratching. Anybody that does extensive composting needs a few chickens.

    I used to live beside a not very smart farmer who kept cattle on a piece of land year round. He had the summer hay baled into those huge round bales and the cows had to dig at them all winter. The end result was that there were these lifeless crop circles all over the field in the spring. The cows compacted the soil and left all the really coarse vegetation as an impenetrable mat. It was inefficient and inadequate.

    Of course I also knew farmers with chickens who lived there lives without getting to scratch in any dirt.

    Smart multi-species animal farming deserves to come back in style.

  2. December 5, 2008 1:16 pm

    My chickens have been fab at scratching up the moss, digging out the weeds, eating the grubs and other ‘pests’. They really are an asset – cheap to feed (corn, layers mash, free ranging feeding), constantly produce extra food and are lovely characters to boot. It’s soul destroying to know that (in the UK at LEAST) there are tens of millions of chickens not allowed to live naturally.

    People are nuts.

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