Book Review: Folks, This Ain't Normal

Folks, This Ain’t Normal
by Joel Salatin
(Center Street, 384 pp., $25.99, October 2011)

Over the past five years, Virginia farmer Joel Salatin has been featured in high-profile discussions of farming, such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the documentary Food, Inc. The owner of Polyface Farms isn’t just a holistic, beyond-organic farmer, he’s also a motivator, author and evangelist spreading the word about how agriculture should really be practiced. In his own words, he’s a “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer.” With seven books under his belt, his latest foray is a wide look at what’s wrong with American food and society today.

Drawing heavily on his personal experiences, Folks, This Ain’t Normal delves into food science, child-rearing, the misuse of petroleum, urban planning and even foreign policy. Salatin ends each chapter with a list of actions readers should take, including using gray water for toilet plumbing, vermicomposting and raising chickens to reduce waste in urban areas. The suggestions are small and implementable, and while Salatin can sometimes belabor a point, the book is an amusing handbook to return modern life back to its small-town roots.

—Katherine Silkaitis