Sustainability Week speaker explains the value of past

By: Katie Christoff – A&E Editor

Award-winning author and documentarian Joel Salatin will deliver the keynote speech for the University of Dayton’s 2014 Sustainability Week, which will take place Wednesday in the Sears Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Salatin is a third-generation American farmer who frequently travels the country to speak about his alternative farming techniques and ideologies.

Salatin was featured in a chapter of the New York Times bestseller “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the award-winning documentary “Food, Inc.” He has also written nine books of his own.

His keynote speech at UD is titled “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” after his book of the same title, according to an email sent by Ramona Speranza, director of communications of the University Honors Program, which is co-hosting the speech.

Robert Brecha, physics professor and energy and the environment initiative coordinator at UD, explained that Salatin uses alternative farming methods in which he really uses the animals, lets them roam around and organizes the growing of his vegetables and crops.

“He has an amazing closed farming system,” Brecha said. “He lets the pigs and chickens roam around. It’s a system where as little input as possible is used to make things work, and as little waste as possible is generated.”

Salatin still works on the same farm as his parents did, and their parents before that. The farm is called Polyface, Inc., meaning “the farm of many faces,” and is located in Virginia’s Shendandoah Valley.

Salatin received a bachelor’s degree in English and consistently speaks at conferences about his farming ideologies, his books and various other issues related to sustainability and farming, according to Polyface, Inc.’s website, His talk at UD will focus on returning to simplicity in food and farming.

“This whimsical performance is filled with history, satire and prophecy,” Speranza wrote in the University Honors Program’s email about the speech. “While most Americans seem to think our techno-glitzy disconnected celebrity-worshipping culture will be the first to sail off into a ‘Star Trek’ future unencumbered by ecological umbilicals, Salatin bets that the future will instead incorporate more tried and true realities from the past,” she wrote.

Salatin’s ideology states that we need to go back in time in order to eventually move forward.

“Ours is the first culture with no chores for children, cheap energy, heavy mechanization, computers, supermarkets, TV dinners and unpronounceable food,” Speranza wrote. “Although he doesn’t believe that we will return to horses and buggies, wash boards and hoop skirts, Salatin believes we will go back in order to go forward, using technology to re-establish historical normalcy.”

Salatin’s keynote speech will take place on Wednesday in the J.P. Humanities Center’s Sears Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. For more information about Salatin, visit For more information about Sustainability Week at UD, visit

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