Food, Nature, Lunacy and Their Kahuna

Coach Izzy

The first time I ever saw this man was in a movie the public touted as a revelation and a wake-up call. His message was captivating and kept echoing for weeks after. It was not only what he said, but also the way he said it and the passion he communicated. This man was, as he self-proclaimed, a fanatic of his craft, and I could relate to his fanaticism.

He was not wearing a suit and a tie; he was not seated in a comfortable leather chair in a cozy office surrounded by volumes of classic works of literature. His very stage destroyed the stereotype of the man dedicating his life to producing our sustenance.  His eloquence, brilliance and profundity of his thoughts made it hard to believe this was but a humble farmer.  Word after word, I felt liberated, reassured my wife and I were on the right path as we supported our local food producers.

And I wanted more!

I read his books, I watched every video that had even a slight mention of his name and every time I felt I learned more not only about our sustenance but also about myself. The message of this brilliant man challenged the system and that sat well with me. It had not been long ago that I myself had flipped the bird to system and reclaimed my life and health. I am a firm believer that the more we question what we are being told, the more freedom and happiness we’ll find, and this man was leading the way. His message has been gathering tremendous momentum and leading a quiet but certain revolution. The power of wisdom knows no barriers!

And what a treat when I found out that Bainbridge Performing Arts and Friends of The Farms had arranged for Joel Salatin to speak on Bainbridge Island on June 2nd. Yes, Joel Salatin, the man himself, the high priest of sustainable food, the self-proclaimed lunatic farmer, the revolutionary of polycultural agriculture would be in town. I immediately purchased my ticket. I would not miss this event for anything in the world!

Be as You Preach

As much as I admire and show respect for the teachings of many great health thinkers, I cannot help but to be disappointed if they do not reflect the message they spread. Many amazing teachers who guided my path in the pain therapy and strength and conditioning field were not exactly role models of radiant health. I knew I went to them because I sought their wisdom and to learn from their incredible analytical abilities, but it would take me a while to ignore the neglect of their bodies. It is one of my weaknesses as a human and one I’m working to overcome.

Nevertheless, I had prepared myself to deal with such a scenario if it should happen yet again. Joel always spoke of food as a journey in healing, not only the body but the spirit. A communion between us and our ecosystem.  From personal experience, I knew food could be healing and the health I enjoy corroborated the message.  But what about the high priest of sustainable and healing food? I kept repeating myself that I came for the message and wisdom and the rest were just banalities on which I obviously focus as a health and fitness professional.

Introductions were made.

And the man himself made his appearance.

The first thing I noticed was his posture. It is becoming more exceptional to find folks who carry an upright, balanced posture like Joel. A posture that radiates health and confidence.

Joel is reported to be fifty-five years old but his complexion and commanding presence betrayed the linear chronological timeline we normally accept as inevitable. And his energy, oh, his energy! Enough to perk up entire audiences and to go tirelessly from event to event without a drop of caffeine or stimulants. This man had that je ne sais quoi of health that can only be achieved when both body and mind are fulfilled and happy.

The high priest of sustainable food was a living example that good food was healing. Good food can heal our souls, our country, and the world.

Profound Truths in Simplicity

If I had respect for Joel before, it multiplied a hundredfold when he showed he was an example of what he preached. I could not wait to hear his message.

And he did not disappoint.

It did not matter how many times I watched his videos. It did not matter how many times I read his books. Listening to the message delivered live, feeling the energy and drive guiding his words is an entirely completely different experience.

The power of Joel’s message relies in its simplicity, in removing the excessive noise that has disconnected us from our food over the past few decades. He mingles simple but profound truths that challenge the system and liberates us from it. He opens our eyes to the aberrant notions we have accepted as normal and go sheepishly unchallenged.  It is a reality in which the powers in charge approve chemical-laden abominations and pseudo-foods as perfectly safe for our families but catalog raw milk and purchasing a chicken butchered by our neighbor as a health hazard.

Joel reveals how by trying to usurp the role of mother nature we have been destroying our soil and planet, how the mantra of “there’s not enough food to feed the world” is a fallacy and the solution within our own hands.  He shows how by simply allowing each species to fulfill their role in nature, abundant and healthy food can be produced in minimum room without destroying the ecosystem. He reveals how the cost of organic, healthy food is higher not because the production per se is more difficult, but because the system puts barriers that elevate costs.

Sticking it to The Man

Ultimately, what Joel advocates is education and awareness so that each household and community can become self-sufficient on their own and not depend on what he refers to as “the food police” to dictate how we should nourish our bodies.

Let’s face it; the system has been making a disastrous job at improving our health. On my personal experience I punished my body and health by following what we were told was “good” for us. An agenda of guidelines enacted by commercial gains, political interests, and corrupted science. It wasn’t until I made the leap of faith to go against what I had learned were healthful decisions that my life improved and I have enjoyed freedom from ailments and pains.

What an amazing experience it was! I was so thrilled to have been there and to get a signed copy of Joel’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World which I will reread (I read it in the past) and treasure for years to come. What a pleasure to shake his hand and thank him in person for changing lives.

My gratitude to Bainbridge Performing Arts and Friends of the Farms for giving us this privilege. More than ever, I’m happy to continue supporting our local farmers and those who dedicate their lives to producing food with love and passion.

Until next time, I’ll see you on the exercise floor.

Coach Izzy

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.