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Folks, This Ain’t Normal: Musings of a 21st Century Farmer

by Stephanie Phelan
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Another look into farmer Joel’s perspective, shows that life in the 21st century “just ain’t normal”. The controversial author and regenerative farmer discusses how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. The regenerative farmer has many thoughts on what normal is and shares practical and philosophical ideas for changing our lives in small ways in Folks, This Ain’t Normal. 

Joel Salatin

Hailed by the New York Times as “Virginia’s most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture”. He’s profiled in the Academy Award nominated documentary Food, Inc. and the bestselling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  And he understands what food should be: Wholesome, seasonal, raised naturally, procured locally, prepared lovingly, and eaten with a profound reverence for the circle of life.

The author’s distinctive voice – practical, provocative, scientific, and down-home philosophical in equal measure – makes this a must-read book. I do find Mr. Salatin to be something of a hypocrite at times. The funny thing is that I generally agree with many of his over-arching ideas, but the guy can come off as egotistical to some people. He’s got some good points and some great ideas but he delivers them like an unhappy old man at times.


His story is similar to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life but I found hers to be a bit more inspiring, enlightening, funny, and generally uplifting. Salatin does admit that he loves to debate and maybe he feels that’s what gives him license to foist his opinions upon his audience in an aggressive and sometimes unpleasant fashion. He has labeled some millennials as “aberrant” in several interviews, ones who also are learning to grow their own food, raise chickens, and gather/chop firewood every summer. To me, someone who encourages the concept of balance – with the land, on the farm, in life – should also understand the balance among society. Millennials really are trying ( I promise!). And society as a whole is trying to bridge this gap between generations. 

Can’t we all just be farmers?

Not all of us can or want to be farmers. It’s okay to be an accountant. It’s okay to be a nurse. It’s okay to be a video game developer. All these people make our society a much more rich place than it would be were we all farmers. With all that considered, we should support everything local farmers do. And I still am a supporter of farmer Joel, as I have mentioned in my other reviews. For the sole fact that Joel Salatin has education and research which needs to be shared.  Check out the film review for farmer Joel’s farm, Polyfaces. And for those who love cooking and bringing what’s on the farm to the table,  we have a gift guide this holiday season.

Like the review? Get your copy of Folks, This Ain’t Normal here.

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