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Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front

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Drawing upon 40 years' experience as an ecological farmer and marketer, Joel Salatin explains with humor and passion why Americans do not have the freedom to choose the food they purchase and eat. From child labor regulations to food inspection, bureaucrats provide themselves sole discretion over what food is available in the local marketplace. Their system favors industri Drawing upon 40 years' experience as an ecological farmer and marketer, Joel Salatin explains with humor and passion why Americans do not have the freedom to choose the food they purchase and eat. From child labor regulations to food inspection, bureaucrats provide themselves sole discretion over what food is available in the local marketplace. Their system favors industrial, global corporate food systems and discourages community-based food commerce, resulting in homogenized selection, mediocre quality, and exposure to non-organic farming practices. Salatin's expert insight explains why local food is expensive and difficult to find and will illuminate for the reader a deeper understanding of the industrial food complex.


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Drawing upon 40 years' experience as an ecological farmer and marketer, Joel Salatin explains with humor and passion why Americans do not have the freedom to choose the food they purchase and eat. From child labor regulations to food inspection, bureaucrats provide themselves sole discretion over what food is available in the local marketplace. Their system favors industri Drawing upon 40 years' experience as an ecological farmer and marketer, Joel Salatin explains with humor and passion why Americans do not have the freedom to choose the food they purchase and eat. From child labor regulations to food inspection, bureaucrats provide themselves sole discretion over what food is available in the local marketplace. Their system favors industrial, global corporate food systems and discourages community-based food commerce, resulting in homogenized selection, mediocre quality, and exposure to non-organic farming practices. Salatin's expert insight explains why local food is expensive and difficult to find and will illuminate for the reader a deeper understanding of the industrial food complex.

30 review for Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelda

    Joel, you are right but you are nuts and I need to take breaks when reading your book to get the righteous 'tone' out of my head. Since talking to you in person went so badly, my only wish is this: May your daughter become a feminist, recognize oppression everywhere, and bring that also to your dinner table. Yeah, sometimes it sucks to be a farmer, but you've got to figure out a system to help those whose lives suck even more. I only bring this up because you do, you white male, privileged enoug Joel, you are right but you are nuts and I need to take breaks when reading your book to get the righteous 'tone' out of my head. Since talking to you in person went so badly, my only wish is this: May your daughter become a feminist, recognize oppression everywhere, and bring that also to your dinner table. Yeah, sometimes it sucks to be a farmer, but you've got to figure out a system to help those whose lives suck even more. I only bring this up because you do, you white male, privileged enough to have parents that supported your projects. Recognize it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    With a title like Everything I Want to Do is Illegal you might expect that Joel Salatin wants to do things that others might find morally questionable, or certainly well outside the norm. And while the latter, at least, might be true in a sense, that in and of itself is a sad commentary on our country, because all Salatin wants to do is to raise and sell to his customers what he believes (and many satisfied customers will agree) is the best animals and animal products in the world, and he wants With a title like Everything I Want to Do is Illegal you might expect that Joel Salatin wants to do things that others might find morally questionable, or certainly well outside the norm. And while the latter, at least, might be true in a sense, that in and of itself is a sad commentary on our country, because all Salatin wants to do is to raise and sell to his customers what he believes (and many satisfied customers will agree) is the best animals and animal products in the world, and he wants to do so in a way that is truly sustainable for the environment and economically viable (both for his family and for his customers) on the small-ish scale at which his family farm operates. Really--is that so much to ask? I'd previously read three of Salatin's books on farming (You Can Farm, Pastured Poultry Profits, and Salad Bar Beef) in which he offers a how-to approach to farming that is sustainable, profitable, and healthy for consumers, animals, and farmers. This is something a bit different, as the subtitle suggests: "War Stories from the Local Food Front." This is a book about the many legal and bureaucratic barriers to implementing the kind of positive vision for agriculture that Salatin has laid down in his other books and has been developing and practicing for decades. I remember recently hearing a political analyst discussing the ways that populism expresses itself from each party, with the Republican party appealing to people's fear of the government while Democratic populism appeals to people's fear of big businesses. Salatin would, I think, tell you that they're both right (and that neither really does much to protect us from the folks they claim to). It's probably not surprising that we should fear both government and large corporations since they're usually working hand in hand anyway. One central thread running through the book are regulations that make it difficult for small farms to remain viable as local food providers. In some cases, the issue is with the regulations themselves, which make it difficult in some cases and impossible in others to legally provide people with good, safe, high-quality local food. Often, this is because the regulations are written in such a way that they favor the large producers and make it so that small producers cannot compete. Under the auspices of food safety, small producers are forced out despite having safer and more humanely-raised (not to mention arguably healthier) food. Very often, when pushed, the regulations break down into absurdity... which doesn't stop them from being enforced. And the other problem is enforcement, which tends to be arbitrary in the extreme. He tells of one regulator who came by, looked at his operation and said it looked good. When he retired, a new regulator came in and tried to fine/"fix"/shutdown, even though nothing had changed about the way Salatin was doing business. His book also touches on why we should be skeptical of the science supporting the industrial food production model. In the first place, the studies being done at our land-grant universities (which, by such an association, might seem very credible) are frequently funded by the big corporate players in the food business. As a result, the methodologies are frequently flawed by too narrow of an approach, comparing the latest GMO plant variety to what amounts to neglectful farming and showing--surprise!--that the GMO plant does better than not doing anything. Or, as I'd heard about before in another context, comparing conventional methods against "organic" in ways that make an organic straw-man to compete against. Two test plots are taken, which for years have been used as testing grounds for non-organic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc, and one is declared the organic test plot while the other is used for the industrial agricultural model. Can you see, already, the problem? "Organic" production isn't a one-year method--it's a cultural practice that builds a soil's fertility, that builds its water-holding capacity, that builds the health of the soil's structure and the living organisms contained in it. How can it compete in a "controlled" study like this against a system that's designed to make destroyed soil just good enough for the growing season and then leave it destroyed again? A related problem is that very often the people implementing studies are specialists in a particular area and, as a result, only think in terms of their particular area, whereas Salatin and other people working on these issues "on the ground" are taking a more holistic approach, one which considers the whole landscape of the farm and the possibilities inherent in it. Salatin also takes issue with zoning laws, labor laws, laws about home-building and housing people, insurance laws and the insurance companies who profit from them, and taxes as well. Salatin is a Libertarian in the truest sense of the word, as opposed to the sort of corporate libertarians who tend to be libertarians when it comes to rewards, socialists when it comes to risks, and totalitarians when it comes to gaining advantages for themselves (that's my formulation, btw, not Salatin's). As a true libertarian, some of Salatin's objections in these various cases are philosophical in the first place, as he sees them infringing on what he believes should be basic rights of citizens, but each area also speaks to the ability of the small-scale farmer to remain viable. But when it comes right down to it, Salatin isn't hoping for changes in policy simply to "prop up" the small farmer. To the contrary, he believes that small farms that are acting in the best interests of the farmer, the animals, the community, and the quality of their product can more than compete with the Tysons and Con-Agras of the world which, by contrast, are the ones who are actually being propped up right now by the regulatory and subsidy climate of our country. Toward the end of the book, he looks to "The Future" at such issues as Avian Influenza, Mad Cow, bioterrorism, the animal welfare movement, and the proposed National Animal Identification System. The common thread is that many of the measures intended (sometimes genuinely, sometimes apparently more cynically) to keep us safer or to make farm production more humane in fact do little to address their stated ends and, as often as not, make us less safe while discriminating against small producers. Thoughout, Salatin draws upon compelling personal experiences to illustrate his positions. It's compelling reading in its own right, and tends to engender some combination of outrage and hopelessness. Well, not hopelessness, exactly, because clearly Salatin and some others around the country have been finding ways to make it work, but it's pretty depressing to see the forces arrayed against good agriculture. Besides, as difficult as it may be to fight this fight, hopelessness won't help, and as bad as the situation is, Salatin doesn't believe that it is hopeless, though it is outrageous.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Okay, ignore the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, etc, and this is a really good book. The ideas pertaining strictly to agriculture are wonderful. If I could rewrite it to get rid of the former list of issues, it would be my bible. As such, the notes I took will have to do.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Small-time farmer takes on big-city bureaucrats. This guy is a kook! Fascinating! It's in the spirit of the Humanure Handbook and Countryside Magazine with some Focus On The Family stuff thrown in. A little disturbing; wildly entertaining.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is a book that would make Robert Heinlein rolled over in his grave, yet he would completely agree with it. It is a book to make me, the mildly rebellious anti-authority person I am, become a raving Libertarian. It also will make you think twice, if not three times, before you buy meat at the grocery store again. The author of this book is a farmer in Virginia. He is trying to run a small farm and sell the products from his farm. Most of the things he wants to do, sell eggs, fresh chicken and This is a book that would make Robert Heinlein rolled over in his grave, yet he would completely agree with it. It is a book to make me, the mildly rebellious anti-authority person I am, become a raving Libertarian. It also will make you think twice, if not three times, before you buy meat at the grocery store again. The author of this book is a farmer in Virginia. He is trying to run a small farm and sell the products from his farm. Most of the things he wants to do, sell eggs, fresh chicken and other meat, raw milk, are, in one way or another, illegal. The laws that in theory were set up to "protect" are just promoting the industrialization of food production. This month, with a mass hysteria over peanut products, we can see how safe the industry is. Unfortunately the result will be more regulation, resulting in more centralization and more areas where a large company can ignore the regulators and small ones can't get in at all. The best part of this book is that the author is not writing a theoretical tract. He is no animal rights activist who has never seen animals in the wild, he is not a professor, years from getting mud on his shoes, he is a farmer first. He has become an activist only because of the years of fighting the system. While the details of how ridiculous the regulations involving the production of food were, the parts of the book that really got to me were the places he discusses the ideology behind the regulations. For example: One of my icons, Wendell Berry, makes the excellent point in his classic The Unsettling of America that ultimately the rabid environmentalist and the rabid factory farmer are cut from the same cloth: they both idolize a landscape devoid of humans. Ultimately they both hate people. . . Asked to supply a picture of the ideal landscape, neither group will include humans in the portrait. Or this point, As these types of laws proliferate, all of us find fewer and fewer spots of autonomy left. Being able to make self-directed decisions is critical for expressing our humanness. Not that any individual expression is okay. . . but these basic moral codes are a far cry from the kind of micro-behavioural codes emanating from today's politicians. The Romans had a saying that the better the government, the fewer the laws. or this one, Teddy Roosevelt used to say that nothing in government happens by accident. There is always an agenda. And especially today, the agenda usually involves more power and money to large corporate and bureaucratic interests with a parallel disempowering and impoverishing of smaller public and private entities. I especially like that last paragraph, as he neatly skewers both the Left and the Right. This is a man who has thought deeply about our political process and the practical applications of it. All he wants to do is feed his neighbors and his family, the government will not allow it. While I think that a part of his problem is living in the East, even in the West more kneejerk reaction laws are passed every year. If I had a lot of money, I would buy this book for every person I know, as it is, get this from the library and read it, remember it when election time comes around and every time you have to deal with any sort of government bureaucracy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This book offers fascinating insights into the processes involved in modern food creation, how this has changed, and why. It makes a very strong argument for the need to preserve (or bring back) local farms, pointing out the fallacy of the legislation that currently makes this so difficult. While I can't claim to agree with all of the author's view points (he talks about much more than just food and farming in the book), I fully agree with his philosophy that we should openly discuss our beliefs This book offers fascinating insights into the processes involved in modern food creation, how this has changed, and why. It makes a very strong argument for the need to preserve (or bring back) local farms, pointing out the fallacy of the legislation that currently makes this so difficult. While I can't claim to agree with all of the author's view points (he talks about much more than just food and farming in the book), I fully agree with his philosophy that we should openly discuss our beliefs and ideas when trying to solve problems. His writing style is very open and honest, offering plenty of material to make you think. The book inspired us to seek out a local farm, a CSA where we have become a member and will begin picking up our weekly organic produce and meats. Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal is an excellent follow up to The Omnivore's Dilemma, another excellent read in the same vein. It offers a much more in depth look at the small farmer's side of things. Highly recommended reading for anyone who eats!

  7. 4 out of 5

    carolyn

    When it comes to farming I think he's a genius but when he starts talking about other topics (immigration, abortion, social security) I get very turned off by his opinions. He really exposes how the USDA is owned by industrial farming and corporations. All in all I can't say I recommend this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Joel Salatin is my hero. In Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal he recounts personal stories about some of the struggles he's had with the "food police", anyone from the USDA to local state-level inspectors, etc. Anyone who thinks smaller-scale farmers have it easier needs to read this book. The most amazing thing to me is that Polyface Farm is still going strong despite all the obstacles the Salatin family has had to constantly overcome! To sum up everything Joel Salatin has to say in this book Joel Salatin is my hero. In Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal he recounts personal stories about some of the struggles he's had with the "food police", anyone from the USDA to local state-level inspectors, etc. Anyone who thinks smaller-scale farmers have it easier needs to read this book. The most amazing thing to me is that Polyface Farm is still going strong despite all the obstacles the Salatin family has had to constantly overcome! To sum up everything Joel Salatin has to say in this book "...all of us need to keep our chins up and keep on keeping on. I hope these stories from my heart to yours have taught, entertained, and stirred you to never take dinner for granted." (p. 342) Some (of the many) quotes I particularly liked: "On every side, our paternalistic culture is tightening the noose around those of us who just want to opt out of the system. And it is the freedom to opt out that differentiates tyrannical and free societies. How a culture deals with its misfits reveals its strength." (p. 9) "Indeed, this is still evidenced by the organic movement, that asked for government certification. People like me prophesied that when the government controlled the movement, the little guys would be squeezed out, the standards would gradually be adulterated until organic meant nothing, and it would simply be a way for multinational globalists to hijack organics." (p. 23) This is an official response from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in reference to a proposed dairy amendment, "For individuals to make a choice implies that they have some basic knowledge on which to base a decision. The Department believes that the average consumer does not possess the basic knowledge to be able to determine if milk and dairy products are safe." (p. 75) - basically this person is saying consumers are too stupid to make any decisions about food for themselves! "The point is that we can't know whether unregulated community food systems have negative consequences until we try. We know what the track record is of a regulated, centralized food system, and it's dismal. Not just in direct illness, but in general food nutritional quality, taste, and texture. Not to mention pollution and rural economic and social devastation. Isn't it about time to allow an alternative just to see what would happen?...All I'm suggesting is that for those who want to exercise their autonomy, to exercise their op-out freedom, some way should be made for that to happen. And when an alternative, parallel system is allowed to exist, our culture is richer as a result." (p. 249) In relation to the avian flu "'We're federal veterinarians from the USDA and we're here to take blood samples of your poultry,' said the man in the sedan with blue government plates...The veterinarians said they wanted to take blood samples to check for avian flu. I responded emphatically, 'You are not welcome here. You may not exit the car. You are trespassing and I demand that you leave immediately.' They backed out of the yard, turned around, and left...I fully expected them to return Monday morning with a warrant, but they never did come back. Which is one reason why I encourage people being harassed by these bureaucrats to not be cowed into compliance." (p. 264-5) "During the [avian flu] outbreak, two of the federal vets came to visit us during their time off. They were not in any official capacity; they just wanted to see the farm that they'd heard about or read about. I was glad to have them. One came one week and the other came the following week. They did not know each other because they were from different parts of the country. But each of them said the same thing: 'Every one of us knows that the reason for the outbreak is too many birds in too tight living quarters in too many houses in too close a geographic proximity. But if any of us breathes a word of that publicly, we will be fired within 24 hours.' Now how does that make you feel about government protection? About the USDA scientists being the repository of food safety?" (p. 268) From an attorney who represented one of the largest food businesses in the world, "When NAIS [National Animal Indentification System] came up, he said he would put it to me straight, 'People don't trust the large corporations. If you're a large corporation, you need that trust to survive. How do you get that trust? You create a system that makes it look like you care. People want to see you doing something that protects them. That is how NAIS came to be. But, and here's the other part of the equation, if you're the chief executive of a large business, you don't want to pay for it. Instead, you wine and dine politicians to convince them that they will curry favor with their constituents if they demand this program. Now you have people's faith without having to pay for it.'" (p. 294)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Robin

    This book needs to come with a warning that reads, "WARNING:Will make your blood pressure rise, your eyes see red, and smoke protrude from your ears." Seriously! The war stories shared in the book are beyond ridiculous! But they serve a purpose! They show you that big government is not the way to go. That big government doesn't truly care about you or your health or your freedom. O no!!! They want to enslave you, control you, and they do this by pulling a blind over your eyes and telling you tha This book needs to come with a warning that reads, "WARNING:Will make your blood pressure rise, your eyes see red, and smoke protrude from your ears." Seriously! The war stories shared in the book are beyond ridiculous! But they serve a purpose! They show you that big government is not the way to go. That big government doesn't truly care about you or your health or your freedom. O no!!! They want to enslave you, control you, and they do this by pulling a blind over your eyes and telling you that its for your own good. They basically treat you like a baby. A silly billy unable to decide for themself what is and isn't safe. If that doesn't insult your intellegience than I dont know what will. Speaking of intelligence, most of the bureaucrats have no idea what they are talking about! They know nothing of what makes a healthy chicken or cow but have the nerve to tell you that your small family owned farm must have a changing room with 12 lockers for compliance. Forget the fact that it's an unnecessary expense and would not be used. Perhaps you think calling the bureacrats uneducated on the topic at hand is harsh. I would repent if they weren't in favor of feeding manure to aninals. These are the folks that PETA should be outraged at! Their desire is fatter pockets not healthy animals which means healthy guts for the people This isn't conspiracy but proven facts through more than one source; this book being one of many. Joel, unfortunately, has had the undesirable visits from far too many pin striped suit employees. He's had to battle everything from slaughter house regulations to personal sawmills. Pretty much everything that used to be everyday life is now illegal in his home state of Virginia. One can not sell this or that without jumping through hoops. He points out that all the regulations discourage good folks from starting up a wholesome business not necessarily food related. I can relate. At one time I considered selling homemade lip balm, lotion, diaper cream, and other hygiene products along with simple jellies, breads, and other baked goods but that dream died as soon as it started. The regulations were just too much. I did not have the time to jump through all the hoops, make the stuff, advertise the stuff, and handle my other daily affairs. Oh I could have made the time but the headache from it all wasn't worth it. I tend to agree with him on pretty much everything. Basically the government needs to get out of our personal life. The book is 347 pages long and has 24 chapters divided into 3 sections-The Past, The Present, and The Future. It covers alot of ground. I read of some things I've never heard of before and will have to definitely research furthur. If anything this book helps the small man gain the confidence he needs to rebel against a tyrannical government. A government that controls what kind of milk you can legally buy is indeed tyrannical. While I dislike the fact that Joel had these unfortunate events happen to him I think it best it was him. He seems to have the nerve to handle it. The book is inspiring at times and other times, at no fault to the author, downright maddening. It is well worth the read. Just be forewarned you'll catch a case of Don't Tread On Me fever. He ends the book with some encouraging and inspiring quotes with the last one being Psalm 35:19, 20. Joel did an awesome job with the book. I look forward to reading more of his work, many which are on my wishlist. The cover art idea was by his daughter. It's pretty darn clever.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    This thoroughly enjoyable book is at once humorous and infuriating. Humorous because of Joel’s genuine, down-to-earth writing style that just makes you chuckle throughout. Infuriating because of the jumble of insane bureaucracy he reveals. Joel can be pretty far out with some of his political views, but that adds to the appeal of the book. Joel defines authentic — he lets it all hang out, doesn’t mince words, and states things plainly. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s a likable guy whose th This thoroughly enjoyable book is at once humorous and infuriating. Humorous because of Joel’s genuine, down-to-earth writing style that just makes you chuckle throughout. Infuriating because of the jumble of insane bureaucracy he reveals. Joel can be pretty far out with some of his political views, but that adds to the appeal of the book. Joel defines authentic — he lets it all hang out, doesn’t mince words, and states things plainly. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s a likable guy whose thoughts should be considered seriously. Proponents of locavorism, sustainable agriculture, and gardening, such as myself, will devour this book with glee. But even if you’re not a “foodie,” this is a must-read for anyone dedicated to building a mini-factory. In "The Coming Aristocracy," Oliver DeMille points out that one reason we’ve lost freedom in America is because we have so many employees relative to owners, and employees don’t directly struggle with the loss of freedom on a daily basis. He writes: “In our current model of government and corporate dependence, aristocratic institutions, laws and policies encounter only nominal resistance. More to the point, relatively few people are even aware of how burdensome our current regulatory environment is. Employees are largely shielded from red tape. Ironically, they feel its effects indirectly in almost every aspect of their lives, but few make the connection. “Create a multitude of mini-factory owners and it’s a different story. Suddenly, freedom issues are brought to the forefront as more and more people clash with bureaucracy, and mass consciousness is awakened.” "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal" is the perfect example of this. Unless you’re on the front lines, as is Joel, you don’t know how burdensome our bureaucracies have become. But a good starting point is to learn from an in-the-trenches farmer like Joel Salatin. Joel caught the attention of Michael Pollan in his New York Times bestseller "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" when he refused to ship T-Bone steaks to New York. Since then, he’s been featured in a lot of media, including the documentaries “The Future of Food” and “Food, Inc.” As Joel writes: “Our farm, Polyface, has been featured in countless publications and media…All this notoriety has vaulted our family farm into the spotlight, the darling of local food advocates around the world… “What many people do not understand, however, is that at every step on this journey toward success, government officials have unceasingly tried to criminalize us, demonize us, dismiss us, and laugh at us. We have fought, clawed, cried, prayed, argued, and threatened. “The point is that if it had been up to public servants, Polyface would not exist. And the struggle is not over. Some battles, as you will see, we did not win. Some we refuse to fight. The war goes on… “Supporters of local, heritage, artisanal, organic, ecological, sustainable, humane, biodynamic food need to know that every day, their food farmer friends receive visits, phone calls, threats, summonses, confiscation, and criminal charges. “The harassment from government officials would make your hair stand on end. This book is about one such farmer’s lifetime of dealing with these issues.” If you care about freedom, I urge you to read "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal." It makes theory concrete and will motivate you to stick with the fight.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Philippa

    Joel Salatin has described himself as a 'lunatic farmer' - but most of the ideas he expresses in this book I find eminently sane and sensible. He and his family have a mixed farm in Virginia, USA, a holistic kind of system with rotations of animals (chooks follow cattle, for example, and clean up parasites), plus pigs, forest and timber. They also process their own animals and supply the local market. However many of these productive and regenerative activities, producing wholesome nourishing fo Joel Salatin has described himself as a 'lunatic farmer' - but most of the ideas he expresses in this book I find eminently sane and sensible. He and his family have a mixed farm in Virginia, USA, a holistic kind of system with rotations of animals (chooks follow cattle, for example, and clean up parasites), plus pigs, forest and timber. They also process their own animals and supply the local market. However many of these productive and regenerative activities, producing wholesome nourishing food for locals, are becoming increasingly hard for him and other family farmers to carry out without the burden of heaps of compliance required by the government, or ridiculous laws and regulations that are designed for industrial-scale 'Big Ag' but are punitive or outright impossible for smaller farmers to comply with. And this was published 10 or so years ago so it may well be worse. Fortunately I don't think it's quite this bad in Aotearoa New Zealand, but it probably is increasingly going this way. We urgently need to support and strengthen the position of family farms, the farmers' market, farm gate and direct sales model, and in my view particularly support vegetable growers who often end up at the bottom of the financial heap. The author covers lots of topics including raw milk and dairy, organic certification, zoning, labour, taxes, diseases such as avian influenza, salmonella and mad cow disease, and animal welfare. He writes in a lively way, with plenty of anecdotes and specific examples of bureaucratic madness from his own and others' experiences. Salatin and his family are role models for a way of farming that is regenerative, respectful of animals and the land, producing safe, healthy food for the people in the community, and also giving them a direct connection with the land and the food it produces. It's a way of farming that sustains rural communities, gives animals a good life, is environmentally healthy and has very low greenhouse gas emissions. We need systems that support farmers like him. PS - it took me so long to read this book simply because it got put away in a box while I was doing renovations, and only surfaced a few years later!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barrie

    As I get closer and closer to my goal of living on a farm, I'm trying to understand and read more about it all. I'm only on page 5 (thanks to a preface and an introduction) but with such good reviews from other Goodreaders I'm crossing my fingers this one won't let me down. -Just finished this book and hmmmmm, it was interesting. Gives me new thinking on the farm life and just proves how the government is basically controlling everything we want to do in order to make a living and live a living. As I get closer and closer to my goal of living on a farm, I'm trying to understand and read more about it all. I'm only on page 5 (thanks to a preface and an introduction) but with such good reviews from other Goodreaders I'm crossing my fingers this one won't let me down. -Just finished this book and hmmmmm, it was interesting. Gives me new thinking on the farm life and just proves how the government is basically controlling everything we want to do in order to make a living and live a living. -My only qualm, and this actually has nothing to do with the book, is when I looked at the Polyface site for apprenticeships. I found that he, the author of the book and farmer of Polyface Farms, only accepts male hopefuls. Now, here I was confused. He talks a lot about fairness when it comes to his farming. He asks a lot of questions towards the big, bad USDA and government folk on why he can't have it his way because all he wants to do is sell some meat to his neighbor. So why is he so blind when it comes to gender? This seemed so odd to me that he ONLY ACCEPTS MALE FARMERS for apprenticeships. Are women not good enough? Can we not handle farming? I couldn't find a reason on his site as to why he was only accepting men, but it made me wonder is credibility and unfortunately it was all I kept thinking about while reading this book, as he went on and on about how things just aren't fair. -I say read it. You'll appreciate your farmers more, you'll ask more questions, you'll wonder where your food is really coming from and where food diseases are coming from and why it costs more to get organic food rather than supermarket food. And I believe, he succeeds in this book because he begs you to question everything. He gives you his opinion, in a very Michael Moore kind of way. He explains the injustice in the system, and unlike many farmers he's actually taking a stand and telling us we need to do more about it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natlukens

    I finished it finally! Ugh. There was a lot in this book about the food industry and other things that I didn't know previously. I had never heard the term "manure lagoon" before. I wasn't even aware of the practice. I didn't know that the cows that become the beef that is on most grocery store shelves are fed chicken poop and even chicken carcasses on a regular basis (and the USDA is ok with it and even encourages it). I'm not a vegetarian, but by choice I don't eat meat often so I probably was I finished it finally! Ugh. There was a lot in this book about the food industry and other things that I didn't know previously. I had never heard the term "manure lagoon" before. I wasn't even aware of the practice. I didn't know that the cows that become the beef that is on most grocery store shelves are fed chicken poop and even chicken carcasses on a regular basis (and the USDA is ok with it and even encourages it). I'm not a vegetarian, but by choice I don't eat meat often so I probably wasn't as grossed out as some people would be. It would be ideal for everyone to buy their food from farmers like Joel. I wish I could, but because of all the hoops these farmers have to jump through they have to charge more and we just can't afford to. I definitely wasn't super surprised by some of the things I learned. This guy Joel Salatin is kinda nuts, but I think he'd have to be to go through all this and come out the other side. I was born in Iowa and I know some farmers that farm on land there, but I have no idea what "type" of farming they do. They grow corn and soybeans, they have cows and pigs, but I don't know the specifics. I wouldn't presume to tell them the right way to do anything. I would say I can't blame them if they don't do things the way this guy does because as he has made abundantly clear, his way is NOT the easy way. I may not agree with him on much politically but I was right there with him in understanding what he was talking about until the part in the chapter about Taxes where he randomly brought up his view on abortion. I get that it's your book and you're going to write about whatever you want, it just seemed like he needed to get his opinion in there on the subject at whatever cost and it was misplaced and unnecessary.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Woowoo

    This is a great book for understanding the struggles that true believers of sustainable farming are up against. It is a detailed account of the bureaucratic red-tape family farmers need to navigate in order to make a living and do so in an environmentally sensitive, small business model, high quality product manner. Salatin makes it easy to understand his point of view by walking the reader through several scenarios that he's experienced firsthand. Salatin's observations, whatever the politics of This is a great book for understanding the struggles that true believers of sustainable farming are up against. It is a detailed account of the bureaucratic red-tape family farmers need to navigate in order to make a living and do so in an environmentally sensitive, small business model, high quality product manner. Salatin makes it easy to understand his point of view by walking the reader through several scenarios that he's experienced firsthand. Salatin's observations, whatever the politics of the reader, often make good arguments for limiting government interference if not repealing regulatory authority all together. His utopia is a more earth friendly and community viable food web that, much like good compost, uses all of its input to create high quality output that is then reintegrated for more and consistent high quality products and livelihoods. A cyclical based model. The problem is, a cyclical rant does not make for a good read for more than one or two cycles. Once the theme is understood and some of the experiences related, it's hard to keep reading to the end of the book because it doesn't provide more real knowledge. It does, however, take some brutal (and not always necessary)and bloody swipes at government and the liberal left. Joel Salatin is a very knowledgeable farmer, with a voice much older than himself. At times it's hard to remember that he's in his early 50's because he reads as if he was that movie character, the crotchety "old timer", who answers the question "How are you?" with the handy, "Terrible. Thanks.". As a matter of fact, in my head his book was narrated by my old Uncle Paul.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arminzerella

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. After reading this I am INCENSED that the government makes it so incredibly difficult for the small farmer to reach out to his/her customers in any way that makes it possible for him/her to make an actual living. Joel Salatin is quite outspoken on this subject, and as you read through his war stories (true accounts of the battles he and his cohorts have faced as farmers who are trying to make a difference and keep their products local and environmentally responsible), you, too may find yourself After reading this I am INCENSED that the government makes it so incredibly difficult for the small farmer to reach out to his/her customers in any way that makes it possible for him/her to make an actual living. Joel Salatin is quite outspoken on this subject, and as you read through his war stories (true accounts of the battles he and his cohorts have faced as farmers who are trying to make a difference and keep their products local and environmentally responsible), you, too may find yourself hyperventilating with fury. Salatin has some revolutionary ideas as well as a strong interest in reviving/revitalizing farming with new as well as age-old practices that conserve resources and work together in a self-perpetuating way. Sometimes, when he rants, he comes off as a bit over the top and far out there (not really sure how to classify the ‘there’ – ultra conservative in so far as government presence in our lives, particularly the farming community, but in other aspects as well, almost anarchist). As someone with an interest in hobby farming with the possibility of someday (perhaps) turning it into a lucrative business, I am particularly concerned with Salatin’s allegations. This should be recommended reading for everyone with an interest in local food sourcing (in particular), and everyone else, too, in the hope of educating people about the reality of our food system. I’d recommend researching federal farming/agriculture law, as well as statutes/regulations in your own state/county/city/etc. to see how they compare to what Salatin is up against. And then, fight, fight, fight to change the ones that don’ t make any sense!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I enjoyed this book and liked the author's matter-of-factness and down-to-earth sense of humor. It’s a tirade about how our food system laws and regulations favor the industrial giants and tend to run small farmers out of business. All the while offering some very funny stories. It was thought provoking and blood boiling! Salatin has a very libertarian mindset for which I can relate but some might find a bit out there. He shows how a more intimate relationship between the consumer and the produc I enjoyed this book and liked the author's matter-of-factness and down-to-earth sense of humor. It’s a tirade about how our food system laws and regulations favor the industrial giants and tend to run small farmers out of business. All the while offering some very funny stories. It was thought provoking and blood boiling! Salatin has a very libertarian mindset for which I can relate but some might find a bit out there. He shows how a more intimate relationship between the consumer and the producer will create the integrity we need for food safety (and QUALITY), where government bureaucracy and the industrial food system has failed us. I’m glad this book is out there to bring awareness to some of the very grievous restrictions placed on small farmers. And it's the authors hope that it will inspire more to get involved in the local sustainable food movement and demand easier access, more competition, more freedom for farmers and consumers, and less government subsidies and regulations for a true free market. I found myself dreaming of how things COULD be if some barriers were broken down and we weren’t so disconnected from where our food comes from.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    If you don't know who Joel Salatin is, he is the all-natural, very opinionated Virginia farmer that was interviewed in the documentary Food Inc. He is quite the libertarian and does not shy away from sharing his political views on nearly every topic under the sun, food related or not. The book could have used another round of editing - it repeats itself and there are grammar issues. But despite all of that, I'm really glad I read this book. Joel explains how the U.S. food industry is set up to b If you don't know who Joel Salatin is, he is the all-natural, very opinionated Virginia farmer that was interviewed in the documentary Food Inc. He is quite the libertarian and does not shy away from sharing his political views on nearly every topic under the sun, food related or not. The book could have used another round of editing - it repeats itself and there are grammar issues. But despite all of that, I'm really glad I read this book. Joel explains how the U.S. food industry is set up to benefit the large farmer and burden the small farmer. It's set up this way because the big farmers have the money to woo the politicians who then write laws that benefit them. Laws that allow them to feed chicken manure to their cows for lunch. Yum. This book helped me better understand why food from small, organic farms is so expensive. Some of the red tape these small farmers have to get through is beyond ridiculous. I recommend this book to anyone who supports small farms or wants to know where that delicious Costco steak came from - and what the cow had to go through in order for you to enjoy it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Rainwater

    Salatin's engaging and persuasive argument rests on the fact that he, as a highly intelligent, moral and ethical man, wants to do the right thing. However, being moral and ethical is not a scalable idea. It's a personal commitment. While I enjoyed to book immensely, I could not help thinking that the reason we have the regulation system that Salatin so hates is that most people can't be counted on to be intelligent, moral and ethical. I applaud Salatin's work and think he's right that a lot of t Salatin's engaging and persuasive argument rests on the fact that he, as a highly intelligent, moral and ethical man, wants to do the right thing. However, being moral and ethical is not a scalable idea. It's a personal commitment. While I enjoyed to book immensely, I could not help thinking that the reason we have the regulation system that Salatin so hates is that most people can't be counted on to be intelligent, moral and ethical. I applaud Salatin's work and think he's right that a lot of the regulations are written for industrial farms without taking small farms into consideration, but I didn't come away from this book completely buying into Salatin's libertarian views. For a balance, read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, which gives a completely different view of the regulation problem.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lj

    Salatin is a "beyond organic" farmer, to use his own words. He writes about the struggles and triumphs of being an independent farmer in America, with some particulars relating to his state of Virginia. He shares his frustrations with bureaucracy and how the food system stifles the production of local, high quality, safe food. He writes on a myriad of topics related to a farmer, but it is very relatable by anyone who has aspirations to change the food system/culture in this country as well as be Salatin is a "beyond organic" farmer, to use his own words. He writes about the struggles and triumphs of being an independent farmer in America, with some particulars relating to his state of Virginia. He shares his frustrations with bureaucracy and how the food system stifles the production of local, high quality, safe food. He writes on a myriad of topics related to a farmer, but it is very relatable by anyone who has aspirations to change the food system/culture in this country as well as being relatable to anyone who likes to choose an alternative to the mainstream. Except, from Joel's point of view, the alternatives should be the mainstream... and by and large, I would say that I have to agree with him on that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bre

    I'm about halfway through. Finished it. This one might just be my new "Bible" of sorts. Here are some of the takeaway points I got: * "Schizophrenic thinking" when you're skeptical of anything the Pentagon may announce, but implicitly trust the USDA's announcements; or the same arrangements with any number of other organizations * The barriers to entry in the food industry are such that it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to sell 1lb of cheese to a neighbor * Inspectors have unilateral I'm about halfway through. Finished it. This one might just be my new "Bible" of sorts. Here are some of the takeaway points I got: * "Schizophrenic thinking" when you're skeptical of anything the Pentagon may announce, but implicitly trust the USDA's announcements; or the same arrangements with any number of other organizations * The barriers to entry in the food industry are such that it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to sell 1lb of cheese to a neighbor * Inspectors have unilateral power and aren't basing decisions on empirical data; this is a tyranny and there is no recourse for the small producer There's a lot more in there, and it is giving me serious pause for reflection before I move forward with living the status quo.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    Joel Salatin is a small farmer who has found a niche providing a unique product--meat uninfected by the industrial food system. In this book he compiles a list of complaints on how the government works to undermine his efforts, and the efforts of like-minded small farmers. The government's various agencies work in collusion with industrial farmers to push out the small, independent farmer and leave the American diet to industrialized food and all its undernourished animals, contaminated meat, and Joel Salatin is a small farmer who has found a niche providing a unique product--meat uninfected by the industrial food system. In this book he compiles a list of complaints on how the government works to undermine his efforts, and the efforts of like-minded small farmers. The government's various agencies work in collusion with industrial farmers to push out the small, independent farmer and leave the American diet to industrialized food and all its undernourished animals, contaminated meat, and inhumane practices. This is a good read on how our government works against its people, and what we can do to opt out of its manipulative regulations.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    It's nice to see that someone gets as annoyed as I do that our government spends an insane amount of time, effort and energy to solve problems that shouldn't even exist in the first place. Salatin does have some ideas I think are nutty tangents (like suggesting that we have an illegal alien problem due to abortion) but I'm sure he would insist that all his points are connected. No matter what your political persuasion or belief system, I guarantee he will offend you at some point in the book, bu It's nice to see that someone gets as annoyed as I do that our government spends an insane amount of time, effort and energy to solve problems that shouldn't even exist in the first place. Salatin does have some ideas I think are nutty tangents (like suggesting that we have an illegal alien problem due to abortion) but I'm sure he would insist that all his points are connected. No matter what your political persuasion or belief system, I guarantee he will offend you at some point in the book, but it's interesting to hear his very original take on food, farming and life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Claudiu

    This book seems to me, designed to make, at times, some statements that generalize and sound aggressive enough, with the purpose of catching one's attention quickly. The one major turn-off for me, among others, was in page 310: "I don't know anyone who thrives on a vegan diet, I've met many folks who are on a vegan diet, but I've never met a healthy one". And so on- you get the idea. You can't generalize statements such as this one, and believe it....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor Lubell

    I am entirely serious when I say that everyone who is interested in food or politics should read this book. For conservatives, it offers a compelling account about why deregulating agriculture and fostering local food is VITAL to preserving American's freedom, as well as the traditional values conservatives claim to stand for. And for those on the left, I cannot think of a better book to recommend as an introduction to libertarian ways of thinking. Salatin spares you the hard philosophy and inste I am entirely serious when I say that everyone who is interested in food or politics should read this book. For conservatives, it offers a compelling account about why deregulating agriculture and fostering local food is VITAL to preserving American's freedom, as well as the traditional values conservatives claim to stand for. And for those on the left, I cannot think of a better book to recommend as an introduction to libertarian ways of thinking. Salatin spares you the hard philosophy and instead, with his strong narrative voice, let's you inside his mind. The philsophy is filtered through his experience and is all the more compelling. You won't leave seeing the world the same way. Finally, to all of those who say that Salatin is right about regulation in agribusiness but think the rest of his libertarian principles are crazy -- why think that the relationship between the government and other sectors is any different? If government regulation stifles quality, care, and innovation in agriculture, what do you think it does in education, housing, and other industrial processes? Just something to chew on, if you will... Crunchy conservatism will prevail.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Joel Salatin is the best kind of contrarian: passionate yet good-natured, eloquent and straightforward, and honest and unafraid to take on all sides. This book is his manifesto against the burdens the state imposes on virtually every level and layer of his business. Between progressive regulators and Republican corporatists, Salatin shows how all sides—in different ways and for different reasons—destroy liberty, protect entrenched players and “mainstream” views, and hurt the relationship between Joel Salatin is the best kind of contrarian: passionate yet good-natured, eloquent and straightforward, and honest and unafraid to take on all sides. This book is his manifesto against the burdens the state imposes on virtually every level and layer of his business. Between progressive regulators and Republican corporatists, Salatin shows how all sides—in different ways and for different reasons—destroy liberty, protect entrenched players and “mainstream” views, and hurt the relationship between farmer and local customer. “If it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure that no person can ingest a morsel of unsafe food, then only government-decreed food will be edible. And when that happens, freedom of choice is long gone, because the credentialed food will be what the fat cats who wine and dine politicians say that it is.” (25) Along the way, Salatin argues vociferously against burdensome regulation, at times explaining his philosophy of liberty and the dangers of state encroachment; but he also fills pages and pages with example after example of the practical, real-world consequences and fallout from occasionally well-intentioned but almost always utterly clueless bureaucratic hoops and limitations. “The high cost of local food has nothing to do with actual costs. These costs almost always are a result of inappropriate regulations that preclude efficiencies. Like requiring a bathroom in the smokehouse.” (73) “The average American cannot imagine the regulatory minutia accompanying every food transaction in this country. The cumulative affect of all these requirements is that the local producer stays nonviable as a business and as a player on the world food stage. “ (157) Here are some of the categories Salatin covers: raw milk, beef production and sales, bacon, the organic movement, government “best management practices,” sawmills, zoning, housing, labor, insurance, taxes, bioterrorism, national animal identification systems, animal welfare, restaurants, and more. If you have any interest in farming, local food communities, organics, environmental stewardship, crony capitalism, liberty and fighting tyrannical regulations, all from a non-partisan outsider, then his book is well worth a read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Clark

    The author is spot on about many topics related to agriculture and the food we eat. I do wish he would not politicize or generalize so much. "He must have voted Republican." or "The religious right..." as if everyone in that category thought the same thing. He has no idea what anyone thinks unless they tell him. Further, what is the religious right? He seems to be a God fearing Man. Would he not fit in that category?

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Galloway

    I'm becoming quite the fan of Salatin's writing. Being a family farmer who wants to accomplish as much as possible on his own farm, Joel Salatin often finds his farm visited the USDA or other regulatory agencies who tell them that he must wash his eggs in chlorine for them to be considered clean, that to charge even $1 admission for tour groups turns his farm legally into an amusement park, that raw milk will kill people, and that he can sell ground pork from his pigs directly on his farm but if I'm becoming quite the fan of Salatin's writing. Being a family farmer who wants to accomplish as much as possible on his own farm, Joel Salatin often finds his farm visited the USDA or other regulatory agencies who tell them that he must wash his eggs in chlorine for them to be considered clean, that to charge even $1 admission for tour groups turns his farm legally into an amusement park, that raw milk will kill people, and that he can sell ground pork from his pigs directly on his farm but if he adds spices and sells it as sausage it is now a retail product and he must have a retail store with bathrooms and handicapped parking. "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal" is the story of over 30 years or dealing with government bureaucracy and how it is very difficult for young farmers to make it through the legal muck and simply farm and sell their goods today. Highly recommended if you're into agriculture or interested what happens to the food you eat.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gord

    I'm sorry, Joel. I couldn't finish this. Heck, I could barely get into it. This actually IS a good primer on the war in the countryside that's being waged between local producers and government. If you can get past the tone: Joel alternates between teacher, preachy and screechy. Make no mistake: there IS a war being fought over food production and the deck is stacked in favour of large producers, feed lot cattle, battery cage chickens and massive hog operations. You'd think that properly cared for I'm sorry, Joel. I couldn't finish this. Heck, I could barely get into it. This actually IS a good primer on the war in the countryside that's being waged between local producers and government. If you can get past the tone: Joel alternates between teacher, preachy and screechy. Make no mistake: there IS a war being fought over food production and the deck is stacked in favour of large producers, feed lot cattle, battery cage chickens and massive hog operations. You'd think that properly cared for, healthy feed animals would be a no-brainer. But, in a lot of cases, it's either prohibitively expensive, ridiculously difficult or simply illegal to sell you the healthy, quality food that you need. Joel is a pioneer in the local food movement and I support everything he does. I just couldn't read this book. Mainly because I'm well aware of everything he talks about. That said, for someone just getting interested in the subject, it's worth wading through.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Salatin is the outgoing and outspoken Virginian farmer who appeared in the documentary Food, Inc. His book is an extended rant that sometimes requires a little page flipping to get through, but his examples are well-documented and backed by a multitude of legal references and personal experiences. Each chapter focuses on a different challenge that small farmers face today--primarily because of FDA regulations created for large-scale food producers that have severely debilitated smaller operation Salatin is the outgoing and outspoken Virginian farmer who appeared in the documentary Food, Inc. His book is an extended rant that sometimes requires a little page flipping to get through, but his examples are well-documented and backed by a multitude of legal references and personal experiences. Each chapter focuses on a different challenge that small farmers face today--primarily because of FDA regulations created for large-scale food producers that have severely debilitated smaller operations like his. He laments a regulatory system that has become closed to common sense and sound farming practices and principles. For the most part I found this highly informative and entertaining, thanks to Salatin's sarcasm and humor. I also resonated with his political jabs that leave no side unscathed. I finished the book feeling rather overwhelmed about the many flaws and problems he exposed in the US agricultural system. I can only hope consumer power still has some sway!

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    It's not just that he mixes in casual ignorance and hostility into this otherwise somewhat humorous rage-rant against excessive regulations designed for industrial-sized farms (and corporate-sized profits), but that his thought process gets in the way of telling the story. To a degree, one cannot be sure if he hasn't in fact simply shot himself in the foot, over and over, by failing to consult with a lawyer while building a modern agribusiness, and then blaming everyone but himself. He just want It's not just that he mixes in casual ignorance and hostility into this otherwise somewhat humorous rage-rant against excessive regulations designed for industrial-sized farms (and corporate-sized profits), but that his thought process gets in the way of telling the story. To a degree, one cannot be sure if he hasn't in fact simply shot himself in the foot, over and over, by failing to consult with a lawyer while building a modern agribusiness, and then blaming everyone but himself. He just wants to butcher some chickens! What's the big deal?!?! Of course, the big deal is that he is entering an economic environment that he expects to work just like the acreage on which he grows his products. I don't know how to break it to him - he is producing commodities in a regional, national, or even global economy that now demands food safety on top of the normal profit-motive. The kind of farm he dreams of no longer exists except in his romanticized self-image.

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