Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

This book has been at the top of my To Be Read list for a long time (more than a year). I finally got tired of staring at it each time I went to choose a new book.

Subtitle: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Published: 2011

Genre: nonfiction food and agriculture

Length: 351 pages of text, 361 pages total

Summary: Salatin walks us through the difference between industrial/government-regulated agriculture and food production compared to historical/small-scale agriculture. He starts out discussing how people interact with food, farming, and farm animals, emphasizing how different things are now from the historical norms of even 100 years ago. People could easily produce more of their own food, by putting up fresh food in season, having a small garden, or raising chickens. We should not be landfilling or even flushing organic waste, but using it to rebuild soil. Even building our homes could use local resource and not be as tightly regulated. CAFOs and other large-scale animal-raising operations are terrible and should be replaced with grazing cattle, mob stocking, and other small-scale operations. At the same time, regulations should be minimized to allow innovation by local, small-scale operators in terms of preparing or selling food.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed some parts of this book, but I felt Salatin went on a long rant in the second half of the book. It seems that Salatin is a staunch libertarian and strongly believes the government should get out of the regulation business. I’m not so sure that would be as safe as he believes it will be. Salatin certainly has some strong opinions about where society’s gone wrong in terms of food (at least on the production side of things, Michael Pollan covers the food we’re eating), and he’s not afraid of expressing those opinions. He finds most elements of food production to be too big or too far away. Small-scale, local production is the way to go. He makes it sound simple to solve those problems, and even provides solutions to the problems he brings up. I appreciate that list of steps to take. I find it frustrating when you read all about a problem, and then there’s no discussion of what to do next. However, Salatin makes the solutions sound simple, and I distrust simple solutions. Sure, there are actions anyone can take, and I am re-inspired to preserve more of my food. But, I don’t feel that removing regulations will make everything better. However, the book did make me think, even if I don’t agree with it all.

Title comes from: Salatin repeated the phrase multiple times in each chapter, emphasizing how much things have changed from historical practices.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #21 for the year, an F in my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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