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Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,077 ratings  ·  402 reviews
From farmer Joel Salatin's point of view, life in the 21st century just ain't normal. In FOLKS, THIS AIN'T NORMAL, he discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. Salatin has many thoughts on what normal is and shares practical and philosophical ideas for changing our lives in small ways ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 10th 2011 by Center Street (first published January 1st 2011)
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Natalie Waddell-Rutter Not buy food produced from them and convince all your friends to do the same. That's the only way it will change.

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Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm about 1/3 the way into this book (I've had to return it because there are other people on hold for it) and I find Mr. Salatin to be something of a hypocrite. The funny thing is that I generally agree with many of his over-arching ideas, but the guy just comes across as a major jerk and I have a hard time taking him seriously. He's got some good points and some great ideas but he delivers them like a crusty old man, cane in the air, yelling, "Back in MY day, you whippersnappers wouldn't have ...more
Joel Salatin can be a little too folksy at times. I have a feeling that if he & I were to sit down & talk politics, we might shortly start shouting at each other. He tends to over generalize about people whose views he dislikes; for example, it's an awfully big leap to assume that a woman who complains to her HOA about a neighbor's tomato plant is also a Democrat. This does not make him even one iota wrong about the state of food in this country, however. There is information within this ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If I had read this ten years ago I would of been tearing my hair out, given it 3 stars, and written a long, obnoxious review about how of course he's right about some things --but-- if he would only open his eyes and accept that if we got real reform and the right laws passed and cleaned up our institutions everything would be fixed!!

On this day though, after reading many off-the-beaten-path books through many years, after many afternoons sitting in inner-cities with foster kids thinking about t
Aug 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I think Joel does great work regarding farming and food production. But im not reviewing Joel or even his philospohy This is a book review and what I'm disappointed about t is the patronizing tone. Page 168 "I have news for you: That lumber doesn't grow there (in a hardware shop)..."

Not exactly news to me. Is it to you? There are many examples like that which I found annoying.

To even elect to pick up this book suggests the reader has an interest in health, food and the environment. There is al
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wine-and-food, ill
Joe salatin has become famous over the decades as a Virginia farmer who uses older folkways of farming to successfully have a modern and profitable farm. So he does not use any chemicals or pharmaceuticals in his rather large livestock operation , but rather composted fertilizers, and symbiotic animal living for soil and animal health respectively. And has been wildly successful, from about 100 acres of arable (and 400 of woods/forest) he and his family have taken a highly eroded and worn out fa ...more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is The Omnivore's Dilemma with a teaspoon of local yokel and a tablespoon of political swagger. Author Joel Salatin is a proud foodie libertarian, and if you sense an oxymoron in that pairing, you'll need to read his no-nonsense book to get the lowdown.

Yep. Joel wants to kick some ass. Mostly big government ass. Strangely enough, he finds himself allied with all the liberal Democrat foodies when it comes down to what we should be eating. It's the government that drives him mad. The "food p
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
A definite meh. I was looking for more down-to-earth validation than preachy libertarianism.

What I heard: blah blah blah blah blah.

Not that I don't agree with some of his practices and suggestions, as those who are truly aligned with the land would hear, but I was drowning in full-throated white noise because of an inherent arrogance that runs like a spine throughout the book. I found this book as annoying as Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which I reviewed here.

I'm a big fan of Joel Salatin. I first came across him in the excellent documentary Food, Inc., then read more about his Polyface farm in The Omnivore's Dilemma. He's written several books; Folks, This Ain't Normal is his newest, and the only one I've read so far. I'll write my review in two sections, because I had two strong reactions to the book.

First, Joel Salatin makes farming seem like the most interesting thing in the world. His farm (and I am simplifying here) takes sunlight, turns it int
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-politics
As someone who lived in South America once upon a time, who saw what life is like when food is LOCAL (little shops on every corner, people who rode big huge tricycles through the streets selling rabbit, milk, open air "ferias"/farmer's markets, etc.) and loved every minute of it, this book resonated with me.

Did you know that before 1946 there were no supermarkets? Well, that's what Joel Salatin says. I have yet to fact check it (and I need to feed my kids breakfast, so I can't right now, sorry).
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting book. How is life different than it was a scant 80 to 100 years ago? Dramatically. People - particularly American people - are for the most part completely disconnected to their basic needs. Food, water, energy, heat -- all essential for life, are provided to us by some process we mostly don't understand. If we suddenly found ourselves without them, or the means to procure them, we would all literally die for lack of knowing how to get them ourselves. In a word, we ar ...more
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a fabulous book, though I have mixed emotions about some of the topics covered. I came across Salatin's work by way of a TED Talk given by Michael Pollan (author of "In Defense of Food"). Salatin is a permaculture (worth looking up on Wikipedia) farmer of Polyface Farm in Virginia. He has come up against numerous roadblocks to what he terms more normal ways of living, eating, and producing food. He provides a comparison of how current North Americans generally think of food, water, ener ...more
Mike Moskos
You'd have to read whole lot of books to get the volume of information Joel packs into this book--I know, I think I've read most of them. Get past what so many other reviewers' described as his rant, and you'll see he's years ahead of many other writers (including the eloquent Michael Pollan who is about 5 years behind Joel's thought, but is nonetheless an incredible read). No surprise of course, Joel and his family have been living this way for a long time. Like Will Allen, his farming practice ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mr Salatin has developed some excellent methods for sustainable farming, most of which is so scalable, I'm able to make use of his ideas in my own back yard to keep 2 (yes, just two) urban hens happy. An excellent, entertaining read about thinking outside the box.

Somebody should probably tell him the installation of rainwater tanks in Australian urban areas only started in the last few years,and is by no means widespread in every city. As recently as 13 years ago, it was difficult even to insta
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
This just feels like the wrong book at the wrong time. If you want to be lectured at for 300-some pages, go for it. Sure, he can be humorous; but he seems interested in packing in so many anecdotes and pieces of farming knowledge that the jokes seem rushed and flat. And much of what he is trying to point out has at this time already been renewed as common wisdom, while the book has a tone of "look what I discovered!"

A good amount of what he has to say is surely correct, and has a certain wisdom
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: truth, 2012, farm
As well as an informational book about agriculture both large & small and nutrition, it is also a call to action. Many themes are embedded in this book not the least of which is 'how do we take back our autonomy from the government that purports to know what we should eat?'

This books educates and challenges. Joel Salatin has a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue; he does not hold back. This is not a book for the person who likes the status quo; this is a book for one who wants to know what
Joel Salatin discussing ways our society has devolved into more of a nanny state with ridiculous regulations of most every sort, but an emphasis on farming/ecology/food preservation and storage. Also mentions how kids these days aren't capable or competent and they're not allowed to become so because of all sorts of regulations. Big fan of estate tax repeal, homeschooling and freedom of choice in food pursuit and tort avoidance. We agree in principle if not practice about a lot of things except ...more
Karlyne Landrum
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm about 5 years behind on my book reviews, but I just couldn't let this one pass without giving it five stars and a few words. I hate to say that any book is "important", because it just sounds so la-di-da pretentious, but the truth is that, whether he meant to or not, Salatin has written a book that explains what's going on in our American psyche - a vague uneasiness, a feeling of perplexity, of anxiety about how we live. We yell for "change" because we know something's wrong, but - what if w ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm completely onboard with the premise that as a society we are too removed from the process of growing, raising and producing food. The work that it takes to prepare and plant and the time and care to raise healthy animals, most people have no experience. I miss planting and canning and talking about planting. I digress. I just didn't appreciate the preachy tone.
Melyssa Williams
I was excited to read this, but my excitement quickly faded. In all honesty, it was too horribly depressing to finish. If I had a do-over button, I'd go back and live the way Salatin wants me to, and the way I've always wanted to, but instead I have sugar-addicted, technology addicted, children, who rarely do chores, and oh - I can't grow a damn thing. Even my windowboxes die a sad death. I bought the same starter cabbage plants my neighbor did (we literally got them at the same farm): her's spr ...more
jb Byrkit
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read-books
Very informative book on food and government.
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I already loved Joel Salatin before I read this book, but now he's my absolute hero! If you know who I'm talking about you've probably read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen and/or seen the documentary Food, Inc. and if you don't know who Joel Salatin is you ought to because he is single-handedly changing the food and farming world for the better. In Folks, This Ain't Normal Salatin expounds on everything related to food and farming in our society today and how far away from normal we rea ...more
Brian Burt
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Salatin speak during his book tour, and he was engaging, funny, and passionate. I came away from that presentation convinced that he has crucial insights into where we've gone wrong in favoring the industrial over the local, especially with regard to food. The book definitely adds weight to the arguments he put forth during his speaking engagement.

This book did surprise me in some ways. It's more overtly political than I expected, and the tone is a bit curmudgeo
Nancy McKibben
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers interested in sustainable agriculture, food, Big Agriculture, and what we can do about it
Folks, This Ain’t Normal
By Joel Salatin

Despite the folksy title, this book is a manifesto written by a farmer who takes the scholarship of agriculture to places that I hadn’t expected it to go. Clearly there is much more to farming than the little we city folk know of it, and Salatin, both erudite and down-to-earth, is just the man to set us straight, which he does not hesitate to do.

The book’s title is its theme: the way we live on earth is not historically, traditionally, or culturally normal.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I first read about Joel Salatin in Michael Pollan's, "Omnivore's Dilemma," and my impression from Pollan was that this guy would give the farmer's perspective on sustainability. Well, he delivered on that aspect. Unfortunately, his continued usage of the hook, "folks, that ain't normal" began to grate on me.

I'm not sure why this repetition of such a cliched declaration ever escaped the editor's pen, but it did. And what may have come off as folksy, squeaky intonation a la Jeff Foxworthy - imagi
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This guy makes a lot of sense. The current culture we live in has disconnected us from what had been 'normal' for centuries in terms of food production and how we live. We're SO used to getting 99 cent hamburgers, or trying to get the 'best deal' on food, that it's easy to not think about how it got there. Yes, modern technology has given us a lot of great conveniences, but it doesn't always mean it's better. The author talks about returning to natural ways of raising food, but using modern tech ...more
Aspen Junge
If you are familiar with Joel Salatin, you know him as the salty, libertarian, grass-based farmer from Virginia seen in The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food, Inc. Here he is at his saltiest and least restrained.

This book is Salatin's polemic about the differences between biological farming (which he practices) versus the modern industrial, chemical, cheap-energy based system of farming, and why his version is better. He takes on the ideas that fertilizer/tillage/CAFO farming is the only way to feed a
Oct 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Since the shout out he received from Michael Pollen in "The Omnivore's Dilemma", Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farm have been in the spotlight of America's food issues debate. He travels regularly giving speeches, and I must say, this book is more like a transcript of a speech than a literary work, complete with his personal lingo, jokes, a lot of repetition, and strong language. (Not cussing, just the expression of very strong opinions.)

See, Joel is not a guy who can be easily categorized and h
K.A. Doore
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
This is a hard book to review because it's basis and ideas are so far out from what we as a society consider normal - heck, what even I as a millennial hippy consider should be normal. It's very much outside the box and very much combative against any idea that our current food system is safe, healthy, and/or sustainable, which is refreshing and - because the author tackles so many subjects in a new and more extreme manner - thought-provoking. But at the same time, because it is so very far out ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Salatin has some great ideas for aspiring farmers and consumers. He sees clearly our need to recapture a healthier type of agriculture, and practices closed loop farming and ranching. I've learned a lot from attending his talks and from this book. He's a great supporter of building local economies and walks the walk.
You could see that coming right?
He's an irascible ideologue when it comes to politics, and a hardliner on homeschooling and the proper ways to raise kids. While his enthusias
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first read about the author, Joel Salatin, in Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and thought he had a very interesting approach to food and farming, so I read this book to find out more about it. Mr Salatin's political thinking is way to the right and more libertarian than mine, and he tells us halfway through the book that he is a six-day creationist, so he and I don't see eye to eye there either. For these reasons I found the last three chapters or so of this book impossible to t ...more
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Chapter by Chapter discussion 1 9 Nov 30, 2011 09:26AM  
  • Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm
  • Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living
  • Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America
  • Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind
  • Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land
  • The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers
  • Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World
  • The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
  • Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook: Four Season Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
  • The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities
  • Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
  • Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation
  • It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life
  • Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
  • The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
  • Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance
  • Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works
Joel is a nationally renowned speaker on organic farming and "relationship marketing." He is on a mission to develop emotionally, economically and environmentally enhanced agricultural enterprises, and facilitate their duplication around the world. Part of that goal is to produce the best food in the world.

Joel espouses an agricultural paradigm shift that sees plants and animals as partners rather
“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” 92 likes
“Read things you're sure will disagree with your current thinking. If you're a die-hard anti-animal person, read Meat. If you're a die-hard global warming advocate, read Glenn Beck. If you're a Rush Limbaugh fan, read James W. Loewen's Lies My Teachers Told Me. It'll do your mind good and get your heart rate up.” 27 likes
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