Embrace the Pigness of the Pig

This summer, Penny and I visited Polyface Farms, the home base of Joel Salatin, beyond-organic farmer to the stars. Alright, while Salatin might not do much hobnobbing with Hollywood A-listers, he has been in a good selection of movies. I’m convinced that there’s a law prohibiting anyone from producing a food- or agriculture-related documentary without inserting at least one snippet of Joel.

After leaving the farm that day, I grieved for part of my drive back into Staunton, Virginia, the city where we were staying. You see, the farm’s shop did not have any t-shirts reading “The marvelous pigness of pigs” in my size. The shopkeeper assured us that they’d be getting those in eventually, but we were heading home before that.

Only on the way home, as we made a fourteen-hour expedition from Staunton to our house, did I realize–thanks to Penny’s handy use of Google and decent cell reception in West Virginia–that my coveted t-shirt actually reflected the title of Joel’s latest book: The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God’s Creation.

Before reaching home, I had ordered a copy of the tome. Penny followed suit, requesting it from our library. We’ve been reading through it over the past several weeks.

After writing and speaking for decades as a voice for sustainable agriculture and clean foods, Salatin with this book has “come out” as a Christian. Honestly, I don’t think many people who had encountered him were terribly surprised, but in that book’s pages, he lays out the theological underpinnings for his agricultural practices.

Although I plan to take up some, if not all, of the individual chapters in days to come, I thought it would make sense to consider my own “pigness” or the pigness of my students. Do you have “theological underpinnings” for your profession? I ask, because I’m not entirely sure that I have them for my primary work as a college English teacher. Certainly I have not worked out that theology and its implications on day-to-day, semester-to-semester life as thoroughly as Salatin has in this book.

So your homework assignment, as you wait for the book to arrive, is to consider what it means to be a Christian car mechanic, HVAC technician, lawyer, financial planner, gym employee, banker, or whatever it is that you do with your time. Whether you enjoy the pigness of some bacon at the same time is entirely your own affair.


Preparing for Zucchini Season

One of my favorite writers is Joel Salatin, the proprietor and sage of Polyface Farms. Although you could check out Salatin to learn about salad bar beef or pastured poultry, my favorite of his bits of wisdom is this: “Where I live, you only lock your car in August. And that’s to keep people from putting zucchini squash in it.” When the zucchini plants start to put on fruit, they tend to produce more than any reasonable person could use. Because of that abundance, we’re always on the lookout for new zucchini recipes.

The good people over at Skinny M’s bring us our recipe for today, their popular Oven-Baked Zucchini Chips. This is a guilt-free but very satisfying snack, the sort of thing where you could go nuts and eat the whole batch without completely wiping out your day. You can check out the ingredients and directions by following the link above.

Penny made a batch of these, oven baking half of them and pan frying half. Obviously the calorie count went up once the chips hit the vegetable oil. Actually, the cultured palates in our home–that would be me and Alyson–determined that the baked version was preferable. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think of these slices of squash as heavily flavored potato chips. I found myself, by the end of the evening, eating them off the cookie sheet with both hands.

If you find this recipe promising, you could vary it with all manner of spices and flavorings without changing the nutritional aspects very much, and they’re as close to free as anything you’ll ever cook.

All in all, this is the perfect Food Friday representative.