Rumor Buster

Picture: Rumor – My brother is really tall

Ever wonder how rumors get started? Ever wonder how much damage a rumor can do?

Rumors damage relationships, businesses and families. Have you ever had a rumor started about you? Did it hurt or anger you? If you have, you know how hurtful and damaging they can be.

There is a rumor (several actually) going around about Polyface.

One of these rumors is this: Polyface owns T&E Meats and all meat from T&E is Polyface.

We have a share in T&E Meats and a hands off stockholder partnership only. We get our meats butchered there. But are a small percentage of their business. They cut meat. All kinds – natural, organic, cafo, corn-fed, pastured and yes, Salad Bar Beef & Pigaerator Pork from Polyface.

Rumor: That Polyface now has other farms that also raise cattle- so just b/c we order from you all does not mean that we are getting meat raised by you on your land.

Fact: All meats that are sold through Polyface are raised by Polyface and/or our current or past apprentices/interns on farms that Polyface rents or owns.

Another rumor: Since Polyface gives their cows small paddocks of grass and not the whole field, the only thing that their cows have to eat is their own “poop”. (um, another word was used, but I changed it to keep this site family friendly).

Again, not true. The cows are moved every single day to fresh grass. They are given the amount of grass that they will eat in the 24 hour period and then moved on. It’s called management intensive grazing.

Another rumor: The Salatin family is an occult. They go up on the mountain with their flashlight at night to read their Bible. (This was actually overheard at a restaurant by one of our staff members)

Again, not true. We are Christians, meaning that we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We are not an occult and we do not force others to our beliefs.

Lately I have heard several things that were spoken against us and our family. Of course none of these are ever spoken to our face. We only hear them through other people. It’s sad and frustrating.

Another rumor: Joel doesn’t use conventional wormers for his cows or hogs so they are full of parasites. People will die when they eat their meats

It’s true that we don’t use conventional wormers. But it is not true that our cows and hogs are full of parasites. We use chickens to sanitize the pastures, use the pastures for multiple species which disrupts parasite growth and we use Basic H as a cattle wormer. Works wonders. πŸ™‚

Rumor: Polyface doesn’t like other small farmers and thinks they are better than everyone else.

It's not all that it seems

If this were true, would we have the open door policy that we have? Would we host the Polyface Intensive Discovery Seminars? Would we continue to have no copyright laws allowing video cameras and pictures? If we were trying to discourage other people from farming we would keep our cards close to our chest. We would not be sharing our successes and failures.

It’s a big world and we’re not the only fish in the pond. Nothing thrills us more than to see families starting their only farms. – even right here in Swoope. Just don’t throw us under the bus because we are a few years ahead in the game. Our business was hard to start at first too. Nobody said farming was easy. But it is rewarding.

Oh, and just for the record. The books, movies and magazine articles that have been published about us are not our doing. We did NOT seek out any of them. We simply farmed to the very best of our ability and fight battles every day to keep our freedom to farm the way we know is right.Β  Omnivore’s Dilemma had us in it simply because we refused to ship “THE” Michael Pollan a steak. He was very angry with us. Until he came and visited. Then he saw the big picture and understood why we don’t ship food.

Another one: The Salatins hate women which is why they don’t take female apprentices.

Teresa and I can attest to the fact that the men on our farm do not hate the womenfolk. Ask any of the young/old ladies that have worked or interned here. They will tell you its not true. The only reason that we were not taking females for a long while was because we didn’t have the housing space for them and the guys we took would not be here if they had to bunk with girls. Our morals stand against co-habitation. We aren’t going to criticize others who do this, but here on the farm, with our families, it is not something that we allow. Daniel and I have now finished off our basement and are actually allowing some of the girls to live with us. Are we snobby for this? Would you want something that you feel is wrong staring you in the face every day in your home?

Should we be criticized for taking a stand on something that we believe is right? Should you?

There are many, many other rumors going around that aren’t true. We certainly don’t expect everyone to love us and what we do, but at least give us the respect to not state falsehoods as fact. If you are going to bash someone, first make sure that the information you are spreading about that someone is true.

It’s a big world. There is room for us all. Freedom means having a choice.


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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.

32 Responses to Rumor Buster

  1. Marci says:

    It’s sad that people have to pick at you. I think what y’all do is great and have thought that for over 15 years. πŸ™‚

  2. Donna Putney says:

    It is amazing what jealousy and/or ignorance will prompt folks to do. Just remember the thousands of us who “get it” and who appreciate your hearts and souls with the deepest gratitude for sharing with all of us. You open your lives to public scrutiny, giving up your private lives, in order to promote a better way and to spread your knowledge for the benefit of others. God love your family and bless your efforts.

  3. wendy gray says:

    LOVE this!!!!! πŸ™‚ Polyface is AWESOME!!

  4. Shari Miller says:

    It’s unfortunate that people are so miserable that they have to nit pick other folks. I think that what you all do is wonderful. As a Christian, it thrills me to know that you do not put aside your morals or beliefs just to be a people pleaser. Y’all keep up the good work, and I will be praying for you all, and for your enemies!!! I pray that our family can come to visit the farm very soon….we are planning a trip to Staunton soon, so we may drop in. Be blessed dear friends!!!

  5. suzie says:

    You can be assured, Polyface’s name is travelling, and admired much further abroad than you would feel right now. We learn and admire you in South Africa where I live. I don’t think you should feel upset about what the people around you might be saying – you are touching THE WORLD beautiful people.
    Keep up the good work!!

  6. Scott Allison says:

    ignorance is bliss… and there are a lot of happy people out there.. i love what you do.. and im a huge fan… i watch all the videos i can and im reading the books.. i love the Polyface philosophies.. keep up the good work

  7. Darren Emerick says:

    I appreciate your lifestyle, commitment and contribution to agriculture as well as American culture. Success always draws (nearly always) unfair criticism and rumor-mongering. Pray for those that resent your happiness.

    BTW – there are many of us out here spreading ‘rumors’ about your innovations and successes! We have a homestead in the Nebraska panhandle were the word organic is still viewed with high suspicion…and I happily tell folks about what comes ‘beyond organic.’ God bless all of you.

  8. The fact that you treat animals humanely is enough for me. Your personal beliefs are just that…personal.
    Thanks for being kind to the animals.

  9. Orthodox Judaism has a term for what you’re suffering from, and it’s called “lashon hara,” literally “an evil tongue.” We have specific, numerous, and detailed laws prohibiting it, and although we fail frequently, the Jewish people as a whole hold the ideal of live-giving speech dear, and recognize how incredibly damaging hurtful speech can be. (I actually wanted to translate these values for the general public, and start a campaign around it.) Lashon hara is recognized as capable of ruining lives and livelihoods.

    So my heart goes out to you. Renegades and visionaries can sometimes bring out the worst in people – jealousy, suspicion, fear of change. I hope you will be able to maintain your personal integrity in the face of this very real spiritual challenge. My guess is that eventually (most) people will come around once they get all that out of their system. Keep being upright and good, and eventually light will outshine darkness.

    Rachel Hershberg
    Beit Shemesh

  10. Jen says:

    You must be doing something right when you get this kind of attack. Those who aren’t (doing the right thing) will ALWAYS criticize because it is their conscience nagging at them. Keep your head up. I hear so many of the farmers in my area say that they try to model their farming practice after the Joel Salatin model. You are helping not only those who eat your food, but many, many more across the country! God Bless All of YOU!

  11. Jennifer Comparan says:

    Our family loves Polyface and all you do. We would never believe these rumors that have obviously felt very hurtful to you. Most are like us- believing in you as heros, with true integrity in a culture that has mostly set that value aside. Thank you for pioneering family farm advocacy, and for providing inspiration to us all. You’re the BEST!

  12. I’m so sorry that you have had to spend valuable time writing this, Joel and his family (all of you) are changing the face of agriculture. The first time I read one of Joel’s articles many years ago, it was a breath of fresh air and changed the way I looked at our family farm.

    Heartfelt thanks to you all for what you have done and continue to do at Polyface.

  13. Tonia says:

    Wow Its crazy what some people will say! It is usually out of jealousy, ignorance or fear! I think you all are great and so what if you wanted to go up on the mountain witha flash light to read your bible??? Lol That one just got me because I carry my bible with me a lot and when I get a chance to read it I do.. But seeing how we live in America where we have religious freedom(for now) I dont see whose business it is. And as for all male interns I applaud that too. We have a local grass fed ranch that they just have female interns of a certain age because they have a daughter of a certain age and while they do through the summer have some boys that can stay in another building. They tend to have more female interns than male. It all depends on the situation.
    Crazy stuff!! Truth Always comes out though even if it looks like it wont!

  14. Sabrina says:

    This makes me sad…and snarky, all at one time. But I suffer the same evil tongue here myself more often than not, sad to say. I think it all boils down to two things:

    1) People hate people who DO what they talk about all day. I actually DO farm, very intensively on teeny tiny acreage totally without anything but manures and hard work. People love to pntificate on slow food, organic food et all…but sadly still today very few people actually want to be up at 5 with me working every day to achieve that dream.

    2) What movement there is in slow food is predominated by a very liberal sect…atleast in my area of WA state. To the extent, I felt uncomfortable in my own “farmers” ? market for that very reason. I wasn’t politically aligned or spiritually aligned as a Christian with a husband in the Army to their ideals. And they let me hear about it ad nauseum. So I left, started my own little CSA and open farm and am making 4 times as much this year without them πŸ˜‰

    Just keep on doing what you do Salatins. There are those of us out here, who sit with one of Joel’s books after a tongue lashing from jealous folks, and renew our own farming spirits to get out there and do it all over again, in spite of how we are treated.


  15. Dave Kreuter says:

    Well… seems to me like y’all are doing something threatening to the Status Quo Big AG Oligopoly…Otherwise they’d leave you alone. You must be doing something right (heh heh) Keep it up. And as far as the comments mocking your Faiths? It saddens me, but the people who say these things are only saying what their father below wants them to say. Jesus promised us that we’d face persecution because of him and I’m sorry to here you face it, but take heart.

  16. Maggie says:

    I just wanted you to know I appreciate everything you do. I began my polyface journey A few years ago with ” Family Friendly Farming ” and now read all I can from your family. I was living in downtown Denver CO at the time. I now rent acreage in MT and have close to 100 chicken this year, homeschool and have my kids harvesting chickens. Not to mention, how my views on faith and how it is lived out in how I view and treat the animals I am responsible for. How awesome is it that one book or family can influence another.
    You have my highest and most heartfelt regards. Blessings to you. You are doing important work.

  17. Marcie McBee says:

    This hits too close to home. It always amazes me that people don’t have anything better to talk about than other people, or the guts to talk to the source. Don’t let it get to you and keep trucking or farming.

  18. Wendy says:

    It’s sad to hear what closed minded people have to say. Personally I think what your family does is amazing, and we are using you as an example of how we want to be able to farm one day. I am inspired by everything you do and have met many a person here that has seen Joel speak and have nothing but wonderful things to say about him. The good words travel much further and faster than the mean ones.

  19. simon says:

    The old paradigm of perpetual growth and profit –due to cheaply available energy, disrespect to land, animal and human wellbeing– is dying. Those most invested in that status quo will try anything in trying to prolong it, including endorsing discord and hate toward those showing a different and successful way to go forward into our new realiy, i.e. Polyface Farms’ ethics of respect to land and animal.

    If such endorsements of hate give reason to the ignorant to act out and lash out then it works to their benefit, or so these corps think. This is exactly what J. Salatin says of those that treat animals with such disregard and disrespect eventually treat fellow human beings on similar terms. It’s happened before to other minorities and other eccentrics, here in our recent past and on foreign lands in distant times.

    Having said that, isn’t it interesting how the ignorant become the ‘tools’ of those trying to maintain the currently dying status quo? Even when those maintaining the status quo do it to the detriment of their ‘tools’.

  20. John says:

    Anyone who has heard Joel speak knows these rumors have no basis. His passion will allow Polyface to persevere. Individuals who start and spread rumors have empty lives and are lacking in their faith…now look at Joel, his family and his businesses. Do I need to say more?

  21. Susan says:

    Sheri, I’ve often found that the people who spread the most vicious and hurtful rumors are jealous of others’ success and what appears to be their luck and good fortune. You and your family have worked hard. You have a vision, and you have followed it. You have been instrumental in bringing about a revolution in the way we think about food. Good things will continue to come to you. Ignore the rumors. Don’t respond. They are not worth your time and energy. Focus on what you know is right. And keep doing what you’re doing.

  22. Eric Mumford says:

    I am getting to know your farm by Joel’s books and youtube videos. I am loving every minute of it. I think that your approach to transparently dealing with issues openly is great. As you said it is a big world and people have the freedom to be closed minded — I think your openness will attract the right people. I wish you joyous success!

  23. Autumn says:

    I’m only sixteen, but I have learned so much by just skipping throughout this blog and checking out some of the works about Polyface, and frankly, I think what you guys do is absolutely awesome. People criticize and spread rumors about others when they don’t understand or are jealous about what others do. I’m glad that you are able to clear it all up, but sad that there are people who seriously believed the rumors.

  24. Annie says:

    I’m reminded of the saying “Doing what’s right is not always popular. Doing what’s popular is not always right.”

    Don’t let them get you down. Continue to live transparently in truth and truth shall always prevail. God never promised us an easy life, but He promised to be with us every step of the way.

  25. Sheri Salatin says:

    Wow, thanks, Everyone. The support and comments on here are very encouraging πŸ™‚ Don’t worry, we’re not going to change our path. We were called to this kind of farming and will continue it! Thank you for your overwhelming words of blessing!

  26. Hannah Short says:

    GO SHERI! πŸ™‚

  27. Shrader Thomas says:

    I’m glad you put these rumors to rest. Some of them are silly, some just down-right mean — but, I have to admit, going up on the mountain top to read the Bible under the stars by flashlight sounds kind of great.

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  29. Ryan Platte says:

    The comment about your cows not having anything to eat made me chuckle, as when I took an Acres farm tour there a few years ago, Joel pointed out some neighboring farm’s pasture, which was more or less invisible, and he said he wasn’t sure how they survived on air. Then we arrived and we watched cows move to their new spot and CHOW DOWN, while what grass they left behind was probably more substantial than the neighbor cows had anyway!