Why is Joel Salatin More Supportive of Men in Ag?

Joel Salatin is consider by many people to be a “rockstar” of the local food movement. Books, movies and articles are written about him. He claims he uses unconventional methods with the goal of “emotionally, economically and environmentally enhancing agriculture” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyface_Farm). His farm, Polyface Farms, offer’s an apprenticeship, well actually, “an extremely intimate relationship” with Joel. The apprenticeships offer young men the opportunity to live and work with the Salatin’s. This men only policy has recently been changed to include 6 men and 2 women (due to accommodation limitations).  http://www.polyfacefarms.com/apprentice.aspx

This pissed me off.  First, I’m going to have issue with the fact it was men only in the first place. Apparently I didn’t get the memo that only men work in agriculture. I guess the first 29 years of my life I spent working alongside, the “cowboys” was wrong. And the majority of women that were in my ag classes? Our mistake, guess we couldn’t find the home economics classroom.

What made me even angrier were the people that defended this policy. Some were even women. Basically it was implied that being a woman was a liability on a ranch. (Pause – let that one sink in for a moment).

 I guess this is so shocking to me because I grew up an only child on a commercial cattle ranch. As far as everyone was concerned, I was a boy. I hunted, I was a better shot then most of my Dad’s friends, I built fence, I drove tractors, pulled calves, castrated steers, got in fist fights, I got dirty, bloody and sweaty, I bucked hay. The fact that I was girl didn’t even factor into my world. Not only would I work as hard and do the very same work as the men I was also expected to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men and keep a clean camp, all while being sweet and happy. I’d say that is the definition of an asset.

 

I think it is understandable that I would be upset when I see people treating women like a liability in agriculture. We prefer to have women on the ranch. The majority of the time they are better than men (there, I said it). But why? Think about it, women are usually more sensitive, we are patient, we are compassionate, and we don’t have the “I’m a cowboy” attitude around the animals. We have smaller hands that better fit into cows to pull calves or artificially inseminate. We have quieter voices that aren’t as scary to the animals. Again, this is just my personal experience from working on the ranch.

I remember learning in college that “decades of research and experience prove that when women earn extra income they are more likely than men to invest it in education, food and health care for their children, creating a positive cycle of growth that lifts entire generations out of poverty. So when a “rockstar” farmer, that markets himself by using “unconventional methods (http://www.womenthrive.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=654&Itemid=174)” with the goal of “emotionally, economically and environmentally enhancing agriculture” has a no or minimal women policy, I think we should all take offense and question, why in the hell not?

8 Comments

Filed under Ag, Rants

8 Responses to Why is Joel Salatin More Supportive of Men in Ag?

  1. “Not only would I work as hard and do the very same work as the men I was also expected to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men and keep a clean camp, all while being sweet and happy.”

    I knew you were impressive but that’s amazing.

    What I don’t understand is why he has a gender policy at all. He should choose the best of the applicants regardless of gender. Such bullshit. Did anyone ever say why Salatin discriminates against women? Did he have some supposed justification?

  2. Thank you. I’m pretty impressed by you too!
    I haven’t heard his rationale behind it, but I would sure love to know! P.S. I hope you don’t mind I linked Biofortified to my blog. It’s just such a great resource!

  3. Lady Julian

    That policy pisses me off too, but then I remember that Polyface is Salatin’s home, not just a business operation. The libertarian in me respects his right to choose what environment he wants for his family. I guess I can only feel sorry for them, and how they’re missing out on the many gifts women (and folks of other non-male genders, or transgenders) have to offer. It wouldn’t be so annoying if his farm weren’t so incredibly revolutionary. But if you happen to be a female apprentice looking for a similarly diversified (and bad ass) farming experience, you should check out Essex Farm in Essex, NY.

  4. Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather have a bunch of women around my family than men. All I’m saying is since he’s claiming he is so revoluntionary he should break the typical gender models in ag. I guess I just don’t understand why people get so excited over him.

  5. Amy

    I don’t know why this is his policy. It’s probably because he is a fundamentalist. I respect his right to hire whoever he wants although I agree that he’s missing out. When I read his books I pay attention to the nuts and bolts and skip over the politics. (Which I mostly disagree with.) It’s a case of “Take what you need and leave the rest”

  6. CW

    I thought Joel Salatin was abrasive and obnoxious in the documentary Food, Inc., despite espousing the kind of virtues and practices I’m inclined to support. Now we can add sexist to the list. I refuse to patronize said individuals. If I ever see a Polyface label at the organic grocery store, or co-op, or farmers market, I’m going to keep walking…

  7. Morgen

    I realize that I am 4 years too late to this fight but I am writing an article about Salatin/Homesteading movement’s masculinaization of homesteading in response to recently reading “Field of Farmers” by Salatin.

    In this book, he writes that his rationale is that he knew two other farmers who almost lost their farm because of “opportunistic” women who accuse the farmers of sexual abuse and sued. This makes women a liability – as opposed to the more obvious explanation that men abuse women.

  8. Pingback: White Fragility and Joel Salatin: Daring to Critique the Mainstream Food Sustainability Movement’s White Hero |

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