Joel Salatin wants coronavirus — you know, that highly contagious disease that has shut down the American economy and is projected to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans in the coming weeks and months.
If Salatin’s name sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen the popular yet often-criticized Food, Inc. film. The Virginia farmer was featured in the 2008 shock-umentary about the “evils” of Monsanto and our modern food production. When Salatin isn’t raving about GMOs and “MonSatan,” he runs the unconventional grass-based Polyface Farms. He also blogs under the name The Lunatic Farmer, where he offers his musing about anything and everything.
And that’s where he got into trouble recently for boldly claiming he wanted to contract coronavirus. Salatin rationalizes that he’s healthy enough to survive a bout with the virus:
Okay folks, enough is enough. I want coronavirus. I’ve been watching all the personal stories of the folks who have gotten it and the overwhelming testimony is pretty simple: a day of sniffles, another day of fatigue, then a couple of days of recovery, and life is back to normal.
Goodness, the common cold often knocks people worse than that. It’s actually not that strong. But it’s new; it’s novel. Because of that, nobody has built-up immunities to it. Once we have immunities, like to the flu, we’ll be fine with it, just like we are with the flu.
He later chastised people for drinking soda and not taking enough Vitamin C. (Note: Vitamin C isn’t going to help you fight off coronavirus.) He even suggests that people’s overreaction and hysteria would be better aimed at “factory” farming and McDonald’s.
Later in the post, Salatin finally gets to the point — his restaurant had to close, he lost some inventory, and he’s mad about the economic repercussions.
Now, listen, I understand the frustration that Salatin and other small business owners are feeling right now. I understand that so many Americans are suddenly unemployed, even if temporarily. None of this will be good for economy. We’ve already seen the stock market’s rollercoaster ride and the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits skyrocket.
We’re lucky we entered this pandemic with a roaring economy. But even that might not be enough to come out of it unscathed.
But we can also see and appreciate what’s happening right now in New York City. Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff can barely keep up. We’re running out of personal-protection equipment. Patients are housed in hallways. Morgues are overflowing.
This pandemic is real.
Unfortunately, Salatin still fails to see the error of his ways. Salatin doubled down in a follow-up post after experiencing a wave of backlash. He again explained that he’s not afraid of this or any virus. Why? Because he eats healthy food from healthy soils that cultivates his superior immune system. (Sorry kids, you can’t actually “boost” your immune system.) Ironically, he takes a dig at other farmers right before making a pathetic plea for “civil discourse.”
The reality is we just don’t really know enough yet to predict how coronavirus (COVID-19) will affect different people. We have some guesses; those older than 60 with an underlying condition are at a higher risk. But through this pandemic we’ve also seen young people, athletes, and health-conscious individuals struggle to recover. We just don’t know.
Yet in the face of that truth, Salatin doesn’t even consider that he might be wrong. I’m not sure whether that makes him a true believer or a dolt. But it tells us something very important: He has lots of big ideas about things he knows very little about. All of a sudden it makes sense why he’s railed so hard against U.S. farmers and ranchers, especially in the face of contradicting perspectives. Salatin and Polyface Farms want to sell you something, evidence be damned.
Good thing for Salatin that the coronavirus doesn’t seem to target those inflicted with hubris.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.