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26+ Works 1,882 Members 30 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the names: J. Salatin, Joel Salatin

Works by Joel Salatin

Pastured Poultry Profits (1993) 169 copies, 1 review
Salad Bar Beef (1996) 110 copies
The Salatin Semester (2016) 5 copies

Associated Works

Food, Inc. [2008 film] (2008) — Narrator — 80 copies, 6 reviews


Common Knowledge



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.
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GordCampbell | 9 other reviews | Dec 20, 2023 |
Once again, his cover photo and title fooled me. I sure thought this was going to be all about humanely raising chickens. It's not. The purpose of this book is to "awaken a thirst and hunger for some basic food and farming knowledge before...new age techno-subjects crowds out all of this historically normal knowledge." Salatin may agree with some of the things the left environmentalist agree with, but completely abstaining from meat is not the answer. Although a bit long-winded and even rambling at times, he will open your eyes to what's not so normal about our food system and point out things you can do to get closer to sustainability and normalcy. You'll learn a lot about the food police and the power they have been given over small farming businesses since the industrial age, only to find our food supply and our earth's living soil now in grave danger. Proof that their concern is not so much for the health of the people as it is for their power and paychecks.

The case against CAFO's: (p. 211-212)

They claim we need to feed the world, and this is the way Americans can do that, and do it with efficiency.

The reality is a house of cards waiting to collapse. Since CAFO's are so large, cheap fuel and energy costs are the ONLY way they can continue. As soon as energy costs return to normal again, and they will, it's all over.
1. Cattle are hauled in from all over the states.
2. Manure becomes a hazardous waste, so they fall into slurries through slats which have to then be hauled off farther and farther away, and to California to be used as fertilizer. They still manage to become overwhelmed and spill over and create runoffs that destroy lagoons and even whole communities.
3. As toxicity increases, the transportation necessary to sustain it increases.
4. Grains must be transported from farther and farther away because the region can't grow enough grains to feed the CAFO cattles.
5. Upon slaughtering, the finished product has to be shipped throughout the country and overseas because the region can't consume thatamount of meat.

What we don't see:
The square miles and "miles of land required to produce the grain, and the square miles of land to handle the manure generated by that facility. You don't see the pumps, augers, pipes, trucks, slurry lagoons, slurry spreaders, and trains bringing material in and hauling material out." (p. 212)

He expounds on some things that are NOT normal:

1. Kids spending their summers lounging around inside the house all day, only to expend their energy in the late after hours getting into trouble....whatever that may be...and the starting the process all over again. Being a night owl is not normal for humans. Teens used to be considered an asset, productive members of society. Now, they are considered a liability. Every parent should read the first chapter. I wish I had read this before raising my kids.
2. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge. (p. 39) We are a nation more disconnected with our food and knowledge of where it comes from than ever in history. We scan a credit card, open a plastic bag, and nuke it in a microwave (p. 19).
3. Now, even rural country is eating the same canned and processed, nutrient deficient foods that inner city folks are eating, meaning they are now just as disconnected to food and its source.
4. Not to be prepared for any emergencies is not normal....weather, politics, economics, bioterrorism. Food security is not at the grocery store. It's not in the government. And it's not in the emergency services. It's not sustainable!!
5. UNPLUG! Men spending 20 hours a week on video games or Facebook is not normal. Neither are kids spending hours on end socializing on their phones through Facebook, chat, etc...
6. The amount of plastic and aluminum foil we use daily is not normal. If you have to, then use paper products. At least, that is biodegradable.
7. Long distance distribution now defines our food system...the 1500 miles from field to fork is NOT normal. Only 5% of the foods we consume is actually grown there.
8. The fear of taking risks, trying new innovative, sustainable ideas so much that the government has to make up laws to protect ourselves is NOT normal. We have become a society ruled by fear.
9. Not knowing how to cook in today's high techno-glitz kitchens...not only NOT normal but should be a crime. Historically, the kitchen has alwsys been the hub. Something was always roasting, baking, simmering, rising, etc...Today, even I don't want to be in my kitchen because then I have to do all that damn cleaning too. EXHAUSTING!!
10. Multisyllabic science-speak, unpronounceable lab concoctions on our food labels is NOT normal. (p. 101)
11. Food that does not parish in just a few days is NOT normal.
12. Feeding the soil reconfigured chemicals, such as NPK fertilizers, is NOT normal. As a gardener, or farmer, if you take care of the carbon (brown matter), hydrogen, and oxygen, the NPK (nitrogen, potassium, and ?) will take care of itself.
13. To treat water with such disdain as to make it illegal to even capture it in rain barrels, such as it is in Colorado, is NOT normal.
14. Sprawling corrals of beef lots, pig lots, chicken cages where 1000's upon 1000's are fed corn and soy to quickly fatten them up for the market. This is NOT normal.

I have read articles that have demonized cows as one great cause of greenhouse gases and how they leave behind such a large portion of earth's carbon footprint, polluting the shit out of it, and I believed it. Scientists have now developed "fake" meat that are beginning to sell in fast-food restaurants. They have also learned to grow meat in a lab from cells. But, according to Salatin, the properly grazed cattle restarts the juvenile growth phase in prairie grasses. By "pruning" it, the grasses are stimulated to greater solar activity, photosynthesis activity; otherwise, it becomes dormant and dies, creating CO2. Also, it is being fertilized naturally with their urine and poop. (p. 21) Anti-beefers refuse to differentiate the difference between that of industrial farming and eco-friendly pasture farming. Remember that agendas drive data, not the other way around. (p. 40)

Tillage crop farms, and gardens, is not a sustainable practice. Tilling burns out organic matter because it hyperoxygenates the soil and then isn't able to retain nitrogen. That's one reason the land needs to lay fallow every 7 years, like the Bible also says (Leviticus 25:4- "But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards."), but now more often because of our farming practices of using single GMO crops and the exhorbitant chemicals and synthetic fertilizers used. I wonder why the author doesn't mention this Bible verse or how he incorporates it into his farming practice?

For home gardens, to avoid having to till, mulch beds with grass clippings. That will slowly replenish the soil with nitrogen as it decomposes. This is what Salatin does in his home garden. (p. 21-22) I also have my compost pile that I can use on my gardens.

Job 12:7-8 - "But ask now the beasts, and they will teach you; ask the fowls of the air, and they will tell you: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto you."

You can learn a lot about the proper way to handle and raise animals, and how the earth restores itself, in turn how you should handle your garden, by watching. Whether a vegetable or animal, the sacrifice of its life is only sacred IF it had a life well lived. (p. 25)

By feeding chickens ALL kitchen scraps, this might eliminate the need for any grains at all, reducing the costs associated with it. If every household did this, "it would reduce the amount of land tilled, which would reduce erosion, which would free up more land to be covered in perennials, which would build soil, and ultimately stimulate springs to flow again" (p. 79) I didn't know chickens could live off of kitchen scraps alone. I could just use their poop from the coop to the compost pile to fertilize my garden beds each season. CLEAN OUT THE COOP!

At the end of every chapter are lists of ideas and things you can do to be a better steward of our earth:
1. Eat bioregionally. Learn to buy and eat in season fruits and vegetables
2. Buy local fruits and vegetables (farmers markets first, then supermarket)
3. Limit processed foods for two reasons:,They are deficient in nutrients and they are excessive in plastic waste.
4. Create and focus on an edible landscape.
5. If gardening, extend your garden season by growing brassicas, carrots, greens, etc...cold weather crops.
6. Build a solarium on south side of house to grow plants.
7. Preserve your own food in season by dehydrating, freezing, canning, pickling, etc....
8. Use recycle grocery bags.
9. Use reuseable tupperware for lunches, snacks for road trips. Instead of purchasing the Keto Snack packs, make your own.
10. Use the short thermos' for soups, hot or cold, potato salad even stays old
11. Turn off the TV or the cell phone (Facebook) and read.
12. Take a fast-food sabbatical.
13. Visit local farms instead of vacation trips.
14. Start a domestic hobby: quilting, knitting, carving, woodworking, repairing anything, etc...
15. Limit your video or Facebook time.
16. Eat more grass-fed beef
17. Learn how to dress game and prepare it.
18. Cook from scratch.
19. Make condiments from scratch: mayonnaise, ketchup, etc...
20. Make breads from non-GMO flours and other ingredients.
21. Prepare hearty soups and bisques often. Freeze some for rainy days.
22. Replace your parakeet with an indoor chicken. They're quieter, you can recycle all your kitchen scraps and get back an egg in return.
23. Get a vermicomposting kit and feed your kitchen scraps in return for nutritious worm fertilizer.
24. Purchase and consume only parishable foods. If not sure, set it out on the counter for a couple of days and if it doesn't change in appearance, taste, odor, or texture, you've just wasted your money on dead stuff. Don't buy it again. Dead stuff (irradiated or what-have-you) doesn't have anything left to give, to create new cells, new flesh, new bones.
25. Compost all things that will rot, and stop filling up landfill with biomass.
26. Reduce your energy use by growing your own food, build a solarium on the south side of the house, entrtain at your own home...no need to go travelling all the time.
27. Capture rain water in barrels for watering plants. All homes should have a cistern to capture rain from gutters coming off the roof.
28. Use grey water for flushing toilets...a great idea but not financially possible for us. Reroute pupes to flush from your large cistern that collects water from roof runoff.
29. Patronize 100% grass-based herbivores: beef, dairy, lamb, bidon, elk, etc...to support soil building practices on earth.
30. Clear unwanted brush, dying & unwanted twisted trees from forests. This allows new saplings to flourish, which produce more oxygen and takes in more carbon than old, dying trees.
31. Add deep bedding (carbonaceous diaper) to chicken coop, pig pens, or barns to sop up and break down animal poop.
32. Do NOT purchase chicken, meat, or pork from animals grown in CAFOs.
33. Look at your expenditures and see what is unnecessary. Add that amount to your organic foods budget.
34. When someone says rmthey can't afford good organic foods, look around their house for alvohol, coffee, tobacco, soda, frozen dinners, snacks, flat screen TV, iPods, tattoos, etc...
35. To help keep small business afloat, shop the under-dog, even if it means paying more.

America's food companies only care about their bottom line. They could care less about your health. It's about taste manipulation, shelf-life, and cheaper products. Period! In fact, in 2010, Obama hired Michael Taylor, a longtime Monsanto attorney who helped bring in the transgenic modigication of seeds, as his food czar...a brand new position inside the government. (p. 342)

The bottom line? Vote with your food dollar because "...with EVERY bite, we are either healing or hurting our neighbors, the soil, and ultimately the world" (p. 91) and our own health. Organic farms are not subsidized financially as the big CAFO farms or farms in the back pockets of bog brother, growing Monsanto seeds. The higher prices for organics reflect the "true" cost of growi g that food and labor costs.

Polyface farm has on their reusable bags: "Healing the Planet One Bite at a Time". I should make a small wooden kitchen sign like this as a reminder.
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1 vote
MissysBookshelf | 10 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
This is not a book about raising pigs humanely…like I thought it was. If you desire to tighten up your spiritual walk a notch with God, in ways you may never have thought about, then this is a good book to read. As a Christian, it really is hard to think of ALL the ways we live hypocritically. This will help you to appreciate the "Godness of God", as the author opens your eyes to appreciate the Glory of God and all the things he has created for us.

The Bible warns against gluttonous, slothfulness, and idol worshiping lifestyles. I am all! I have become fat and incredibly lazy in my daily life in taking care of responsibilities to the BEST of my abilities. And I will purchase the cheapest cuts of meat in the supermarket, processed foods that are not good for me (or my family), GMO's instead of paying those higher prices for organic foods (supporting small organic farmers, local farmers and farmers market), or growing my own organic foods. I eat out and support many restaurants that don't give a second thought on how God's creatures have been treated. And, the fact is, when saving a little money so I can throw it away somewhere else becomes the most important thing in life above anything else, "it's an icon of anti-Christian thought and practice" (p. 8). The liberal left sees our hypocrisy and calls us out on it. We need to set the example! We must develop that walk-talk consistency in our lives to be taken seriously.

This book was written for Christians, although Joel Salatin has friends on both sides of the political spectrum. He, himself, leans on the right and is a Christian, but he also believes as the left liberals do...that we have a responsibility to care for the earth, our environment and God's creatures, even though they also show a huge amount of hypocrisy in their actions as well. But, Joel Salatin walks the walk when it comes to these issues and is a true organic environmentalist and backs up his lifestyle and thinking with Bible verses. His farm, Polyface Farm, is open to the public 24/7 and 365 days a year. The truth is..."the religious right has neglected earth stewardship and given it over to creation worshipers instead of owning it as Creator worshippers".(p. 12). This book is intended to help us, as Christians, to think and do better in our earthly stewardship in life as we try to follow God's words.

In the 1980's when many farmers were going bankrupt because they could no longer afford machines and chemicals, and banks were closed to lending and markets were down, Joel Salatin was running a sustainable farm by making their own fertilizer, direct marketed to local customers, grazed cattle, and built ponds for water. Even James Dobson was empathizing and crying foul play with those farmers who had sold out to big industry. Joel's father wrote to James Dobson from Focus on the Family about how farmers can be sustainable with better earth stewardship, but they never even got a response in return. I write this down to remember because of the fact that I have always revered James Dobson and it shocks me that they never even had the courtesy to reply back.

The scripture uses the word "glory" to describe the "uniqueness" of God, but also for many other things as well. When mentioned in the Bible, glory means "showing a deep respect and honor for the uniqueness of all created beings-and things" (p. 19) How we live our lives and treat other humans, as well as how we treat and raise animals, plants, the earth, the environment, is showing outwardly our respect and honor for the glory of God, or the Godness of God. (p. 19). If you don't appreciate the pigness of a pig, or, in my case, the chickenness of a chicken, then you don't appreciate the Godness of God.

To show appreciation for the chickenness of chickens: You let them run around outside, get exercise, eat grass, and scratch in the dirt (p. 94). Pastured chickens don't get "high-pathogen" salmonello or avian influenza. "Based on every sample and study to-date, pastured poultry is immune to these industrial-strain diseases." (p. 96) Plus, the quality of the egg is so much better for the human body. See below:

FDA vs. Joel Salatin's POLYFACE FARM (p. 96):

FDA (Grocery store eggs)
Vitamin E - 0.97 mg
Vitamin A - 487 IU
Beta-carotene - 10 mcg
Folate - 47 mcg
Omega-3s - 0.033 g
Cholesterol - 423 mg
Saturated Fat - 3.1 g

Vitamin E - 7.37 mg
Vitamin A - 763 IU
Beta-carotene - 76.2 mcg
Folate - 1200 mcg
Omega-3s - 0.71 g
Cholesterol - 292 mg
Saturated Fat -2.31 g

To know if you are truly honoring and appreciating all of God's glory, look at your animal/s and ask yourself: If I were an animal, would I want to live like this?

The Bible never says that killing and eating animals was forbidden or a sin. Jesus ate meat. In fact, Jesus uses the example of a seed being planted as a way to life. Unless, it first dies, the new shoot can't sprout. We collect seeds from flower heads that are dead, which we plant the following year. The same with animal or human life. Absolutely EVERYTHING in life requires death in order to create life. Eating food "should" remind us of that, and remembering this brings glory to God because we are showing appreciation for the cost of life in Him. "What makes the sacrifice of plant or animal sacred is how it was honored in life" (p. 28). Many Christians will use the excuse...as long as the heart means well...hogwash...not an excuse. It's not about liking the Truth, it's about "doing" the Truth. (p. 32) All human inventions are not acceptable to God (Psalm 106:29). CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations) may feed more people, but at what cost to animal and human health, even environment health. 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

The "glory of the pig is in its ability to move things around, to till things, and disturb soil." (p. 22) On Joel's farm, they use the pigs as "pigaerators" to help build compost. Example: They bed the cows with wood chips, straw, peanut hulls, and other carbon to absorb the nutrient droppings from cow poop. They add corn and hay on top to feed the cows who tromp the pile down making it anaerobic. The corn ferments over the winter. Then cows are let out to pasture and pigs are let in to dig and feed off the corn, aerorating the compost, rather than using depreciating (and expensive) machinery. This is what is meant by honoring the “pigness of pigs”. They are happy and doing what they love to do, then they are let out in large pastures to scavenge for bugs and roots and greens. (p. 22-23). "If we do indeed serve an awesome God, people who encounter us, who walk on our farms, should be astounded at the health and strength they see." (p. 68)

In CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), farmers cut off the pigs' tail. This is called "docking". It makes them sore and very tender and keeps other pigs from biting their tails and drawing blood when bored and stressed in such tight confinements. If blood is drawn then all pigs, being omnivores, will be drawn to that blood and kill and consume that pig. (p. 21) In large chicken operations, the beaks are cut off and chickens are in such tight quarters they can't even lay down to lay an egg. Conditions are so filthy in all large animal operations that all meat and eggs are dipped in chlorine to sterilize from high-pathogens.

P. 34: "Our interaction with the physical defines and establishes our relationship with God. Our stewardship of things we can see illustrates our stewardship of things we can't see."

P. 42: Gardens and earth connections bring us closer to God. He started humanity in the Garden of Eden, and in His last hours, He retreated to the garden in Gethsemane for prayer in His final hours on earth. This might explain why, in years that I do garden, I "feel" close to God. And in years I don't Garden, it's like I don't even know Him.

P. 43-44: Revelation 11:18 - God will "destroy those who destroy the earth." The test of good stewardship is to leave the land better than you found it.

P. 44: He talks about the one thing that has always bothered me... how the Democratic liberal left (creation worshippers) have hijacked noble earth stewardship (just like the rainbow has been hijacked by the gay-pride movement)...with their political calls of global warming or climate change. But, because we know God's whole game plan (like we know God created the rainbow as a promise to us, His people, that He wouldn’t forget us), we know His patterns of sustainable life used here on earth, and what His Word has to say on earthly stewardship, this gives us a chance to testify from a Biblical perspective of our personal responsibilities. So, don’t give up! I was green before green was popular, and I was green before it became a political vice.

P. 141: As far as today's farming practices go, we are very much removed from God's original intention. Single animal factory farms are completely unnecessary and unsustainable for the long-term....as well as these single crop farming for fuel and cattle feed, GMO seeds injected with insecticide and that don't reproduce, etc... Another fallacy I've heard a lot on the media is that raising and eating herbivores, such as cows, is very inefficient. That's not true at all if you consider that cows consume 28 lbs. of forage...even nutrient-deficient grasses, and water, but excrete 50 lbs. of poop full of regenerative nutrients full of nitrogen the land needs. They are symbiotic and go hand in hand....if farmed properly. We've been tricked into believing that these factory farms are necessary to help feed the world. We have adopted a farming system that depletes wildlife instead of stimulating it. (p. 141) And we are increasing dead zones, where nothing will no longer grow, all across the world.

P. 142: "Plants breathe in carbon dioxide, splitting off the carbon and exhaling oxygen. It we take a long-term view, we'll be interested in plant health because ultimately that affects planetary health." It's all God's stuff!

P. 143: Grasslands are literally the lungs of the earth, and restoring them with large herds of grazing animals through holistic, or long-term management is not only necessary, but it's the most efficacious way to restore water cycles and the carbon cycle.

P. 240-41: Forgiveness farming can provide relief from Salmonella, E. coli, Avian influenza, Pfiesteria, Capylobactor, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, hoof-and-mouth disease, obesity epidemic, fish kill, dead zones springing up all over the earth, etc....none of which was even heard of a couple of decades ago. So, consider forgiveness farming!!
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MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Caution: this book is a thought-provoker. If you are not intellectually qualified to discern fact from philosophy and integrate that information into your brain without barfing it out because it challenges conceptions made from incomplete knowledge or pre-existing philosophical leanings, you will likely flounder in this book.

The short of it: this is the story of a small-time, 100% locally based farmer. He gives examples and philosophies from those examples on the hows and whys of modern agriculture--an unhealthy industrial paradigm--and the hows and whys of traditional agriculture--a better capacity for a healthy industrial paradigm. This is not a stereotypical food book of a hippie broadcasting his or her ideals. Joel Salatin does make philosophical statements as he does not take an academic approach to this book (though he does include some statistics), but he grounds the book by his experiences trying to compete in an industry essentially reserved for big companies and his, frankly, ingenious yet pragmatic alternatives.

The long of it: This book has had some negative reviews. There is a reason for this, and you'll see it in personal interactions if you're the sort to ask questions and speculate: most people don't like it when you step on their toes. Most people like things simple. They like to not have to think about non-leisurely things. They don't like to be told to take a step back and ask questions. They don't like to consider something that they took for granted.

Joel Salatin likes to step on toes. He doesn't write with a "my way or the highway" attitude, but he does expect those who pick up the book to contemplate the things we prefer to let others--even strangers--think about and act upon. It's okay. It's a book. It can't kill you. We can only learn if we challenge our existing ideas. There is no requirement to agree with him, but there is a requirement to see things from a different perspective.

Joel Salatin is an old-fashioned farmer: he has poultry, swine, and bovine commercial livestock and grows his own self-sustaining crop garden. Save for the egg mobiles the chickens live in at night, these animals are free ranging. Three-quarters of his property is forest. He and another farmer run a local abattoir (meat-processing facility).

He expresses non-agriculture-related philosophies built from the life he has lived at times that will irk the average reader. (We all have perspective limitations, and his include assuming that all video games are bad and science destroys spirituality, yet simultaneously and he respects what science is capable of as long as it's not tainted by economic influence.)

At such times I wanted to rate this book a two or a three. However, rest assured this man has the inside story on the hows and whys of the small-time farmer failing in our modern culture and how we can be far more ecologically and economically more responsible. His insights are no-nonsense and his "alternative" ideas are so common sense you want to cry for the human stupidity (or laziness) that led our society to live in a non-responsible manner. This information is so valuable I wish everyone, consumers and workers in the industry, would read and openly consider. If anything, the advice in this book is built on experience, not the hippie idealism that most books in this genre follow without considering the pros and cons of their philosophy and others.
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leah_markum | 10 other reviews | Oct 28, 2022 |


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