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Real food activist speaks on importance of farm ethics

Joel Salatin, a Virginia farmer who champions local and organic food production, told viewers of his lecture Thursday that he stands for producing food just like Grandma did.

Salatin, author of the book Folks, This Aint Normal was featured in the documentary Food, Inc, is a rising celebrity among those advocating for a diet produced by natural farming methods. Though tickets for his lecture at the Roosevelt 2.0 in Ybor City cost $100, with proceeds going to support local food systems and real food organizations, USF students watched the lecture for free in Juniper-Poplar Hall via UStream after Chipotle contacted the Office of Sustainability and requested that the event be included in its week of Earth Day events.

Unlike mass food producers that create food that is unhealthy for people, the environment and animals, Salatin said, real food, or food that is shipped from within 350-mile radius, is fair in the treatment of farmers and workers who harvest it, humane and non-genetically modified or ecologically sound, can be trusted.

Weve got all of these things going on in the labels, he said. (We shouldnt need) a chemists degree to read the label. Read the labels. You shouldnt eat any food that wasnt available before 1900. You can all be thankful that hot dogs were introduced during the 1890 Worlds Fair. Got in right at the end.

Joseph Michalsky, a sophomore majoring in computer science and civil engineering, is logistics coordinator for USFs Real Food Challenge, a group currently petitioning Aramark to increase the proportion of real food served at USF over the next eight years. Michalsky couldnt stay for the lecture because of homework but helped set out free food provided by Chipotle.

In the past 60 years, American agriculture has developed in a way that separates us from the food that we eat, he said. Weve reached a point where, if it looks edible, some people just eat it. If we can try to reconnect the mass of society to the food that they eat, and make them aware of the food they eat and how its made and manufactured and processed, more people will be inclined to choose options that are better for them and the environment.

But while clapping and laughter could be heard during several moments in the telecast, much of it was indecipherable due to poor sound quality and the first 40 minutes of Salatins lecture were muted.

While most students stuck it out through the beginning of the lecture, the group was reduced to eight people within the first 20 minutes after sound came on. Only five students sat for the entire showing.

Salatin said the biggest factor holding back the real food movement is participation. He said in 1946, 50 percent of all fruits and vegetables in America were grown in a backyard garden. He advocated a return to this practice and the multiplication of more farms like his own.

This is a time when (the farming industry is) locking up our farms with no trespassing signs, he said. (But) our commitment to transparency is anyone any of you is welcome to come to our farm on any day of the year, from anywhere in the world, 24/7, 365.

Blake Martin, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary social science, said the real food movement is important because the food system is terrible.

What we see in commercials with cows at pasture, like Happy cows come from California is bulls—, she said. That doesnt exist. They live in these very confined spaces where they are standing in their own waste all day, eating food that their bodies werent designed to eat.