Salatin shines again in 'Farmageddon'

Back in 2009, we had an opportunity to see Joel Salatin, the Shenandoah Valley's most famous farmer, in action. When we arrived at sunrise, the outspoken agriculturist was already high up in a pasture in front of a pen of chickens with a documentary film crew, being, well, outspoken.

As the mist lifted and the morning sun saturated the landscape with a golden glow, Salatin waxed eloquent about his happy chickens and turkeys, and the obstacles that small farmers face in a food system dominated by large corporations and the federal government.

Now that documentary film has arrived. Farmageddon: The Unseen War on America's Small Family Farms debuts this weekend in Washington, DC, and shows at the West End Theater through June 23. Then it's on to California and New York.

When the Hook experienced Salatin's Swoope-based Polyface Farms two years ago, the visit was capped by a breakfast of Salatin's eggs and sausage, raw milk from a nearby dairy farm, and some locally produced apple juice, a meal so satisfying that we didn't feel hungry all day.

Filmmaker Kristin Canty remembers it fondly.

"It was a great bonus getting a Polyface Farm fresh breakfast," she says. "I visited Joel's farm because I wanted to interview him about farming regulations that keep him from distributing his food."

During the filming, Canty revealed how she became a small farm advocate, saying that her four-year-old son, Charlie, was restored to health by drinking raw milk, which is currently unavailable for sale in most states, including Virginia.

It seems that young Charlie was allergic to nearly everything– animals, flowers, trees, grass, and dust– and also suffered from asthma. Doctors prescribed various drugs and therapies, but nothing worked. Desperate, Canty had heard that allergies might be cured by drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows, as the milk contains healthy bacteria and enzymes that are missing in pasteurized milk. Reluctantly, she fed her son raw milk.

"His allergies and asthma slowly began to diminish until they were gone," said Canty. "He's fifteen now, a fine athlete, and doesn't even have a sniffle."

Now that Canty's film has finally become a reality, is there any chance the film will screen around here?

"I hope so," says Canty. "If we do well in DC, LA, New York, it could be screened all over."

Check out The Dish on Facebook!