Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin
The Big Idea: Today’s level of overconsumption and resource-depletion is unsustainable.
Ch. 1: Children, Chores, Humility, and Health
  • Historically, children had chores and responsibilities that taught them how to be an adult.
  • Our children were homeschooled, never had television, and were encouraged to pursue entrepreneurial adventures.
  • I don’t believe in allowances.
  • 50 years ago, 50% of produce grown in America came from backyard gardens.  Gardening teaches children about responsibility and nature.
  • According to the hygiene hypothesis, sheltering children from dirt and minor pathogens leads to allergies, asthma, and a weaker immune systems.
Ch. 2: A Cat Is a Cow Is a Chicken Is My Aunt
  • Traditional agricultures has always used grazing animals to replenish the soil.
  • The circle of life demands that something must die for something to live.
  • Animal activists will learn more working on a functioning organic farm with animals than sitting in air-conditioned home, reading articles on the internet.
  • Chickens and pigs are great for turning scraps into fertilizer.
  • Nobody in the world goes hungry because of lack of food production.  What kills people is food distribution problems.
  • Heifer International is getting it right, by starting with livestock.
  • Not all plants are good.  Many grains, grown industrially, devastate our topsoil.
  • If people knew more about where food came from, we would all be better off.
  • Can you name four vegetables that grow underground?  Above ground? Legumes?
  • Spend some serious time on a farm.
  • Start a backyard vegetable garden.
  • Eat more grass-fed beef and less chicken and less pork.
  • Raise small livestock (rabbits, chickens).
  • Take your kids hunting.

Ch. 3: Hog Killin’s and Laying in the Larder

  • The average town only has three days’ supply of food.
  • The first supermarket in America appeared in the 1940’s.
  • Nobody goes hungry because of lack of food.  They go hungry due to a lack of distribution.
  • Having all food available all year is not natural.
  • Lack of food security, caused by our current system makes us vulnerable.
  • Buy more food from local farmers.
  • Learn how to preserve food.
  • Buy a big freezer and store more food.
  • Start a 19th-century hobby.
  • Grow some food on your property.

Ch. 4: Wrappings, Trappings, and Foil

  • Book: Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Learn how to preserve your own food.
  • Learn how to extend your gardening season with cool-season crops like brassicas, carrots, beets, and greens.
  • Take your own containers to the farmer’s market and grocery store.
  • Reduce or eliminate buying processed foods.  They are responsible for all the wasteful packaging.
  • Get a ton of stackable, reusable containers.
  • Get a good thermos.

Ch. 5: Lawn Farms and Kitchen Chickens

  • Long distance distribution now defines the modern food system.
  • Half of all food fit for human consumption never gets eaten.  Much is lost to long-distance transportation.
  • Lots of farmland is going underused because farmers are getting older and the children are not farmers.
  • You can’t preserve farmland without preserving farmers.
  • Urban farm example: raised beds, chicken yard, worm farm.
  • Will Allen, Growing Power in Milwaukee: fish, hoophouses, warm farm.
  • Small Plot Intensive Farming (SPIN): half-acre, vertical stacking, polyculture.
  • Combining plants and animals gets the best of both worlds.
  • America has 35mm acres of lawns and 36mm acres of land for recreational horses.  And much more for golf courses.
  • Cheap energy masks the true cost of our food system.
  • We’ve traded our backyard gardens and neighborhood farms for Chinese imports and mega-crops filled with diseases.
  • Plant edible landscape.
  • Use marginal land.
  • Eat locally.
  • Raise backyard chickens.

Ch. 6: Dino-the-Dinosaur-Shaped Nuggets Don’t Grow on Chickens

  • People today have forgotten how to cut up a whole chicken.
  • Get a slow cooker.
  • Today’s kitchen is nothing more than an unpackaging center for packaged food.
  • Learn how to cook a complete meal from scratch.
  • Process something simple for yourself, like applesauce.
  • Everyone pitches in with cleaning up after dinner.

Ch. 7: We Only Serve White Meat Here

  • A quarter of all food is now eaten in automobiles.
  • Eat more home cooked meals and save more leftovers.
  • Eat more soups.  They are easy to prepare/store and way better than fast food.

Ch. 8: Disodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetate-Yum!

  • Quit buying processed food with ingredients you can’t pronounce.  It’s terrible for your gut biome.
  • Buy organic and local from farmer’s markets.

Ch. 9: No Compost, No Digestion

  • Food that doesn’t decompose isn’t normal.
  • Get chickens to turn kitchen scraps into fertilizer.
  • Get earthworms to turn kitchen scraps into earthworm castings for your garden.
  • Buy only perishable food.
  • The only stable foods at ambient temperature are normally nuts and dehydrated foods.

**Ch. 10 The Poop, the Whole Poop, and Nothing but the Poop

  • On some farms, half the workload can be shoveling manure.
  • Cities in the early 1900’s would suffocate in horse manure.
  • Soil fertility is linked to manure.
  • Cheap energy led to chemical fertilization.
  • Soil is fundamentally a living organism.
  • Book: The Complete Book of Composting by Rodale
  • Composting + intensive pasture management with herbivores and electric fencing = productive soil.
  • We should not be feeding herbivores grain.  It’s not their natural diet.

Ch. 11: Park, Plant, and Power

  • We are too dependent on cheap oil, even as we are reaching or have reached peak oil.
  • Before petroleum people acquired their own energy.
  • Before petroleum, people didn’t commute.  They lived where they worked.
  • Without petroleum, the suburbs will have to become more self-sufficient or else collapse from lack of food.
  • Green trend: living where you work
  • Green trend: passive solar gains at home
  • Green trend: edible landscaping
  • Green trend: backyard chickens and rabbits
  • Green trend: biodiesel

Ch. 12: Roofless Underground Dream Houses

  • Earth-sheltered home are naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • A methane digester can take care of human waste.
  • A solar water heater would run showers and hot water faucets.
  • A clothesline would replace a dryer.
  • Gray water would irrigate vegetables and fruits.
  • Rain water would collect in the cistern.
  • A small woodstove would supplement passive solar gain.
  • A solar array or windmill would supply energy.
  • Earth berming would keep the house cool in the summer.
  • Tiny houses are replacing McMansions.
  • Buy tiny homes that are built with local materials.
  • Book: Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire.
  • Book: The Moving Feast
  • Hogs in forests help to stimulate growth.

Ch. 13: Grasping for Water

  • Water is the most essential and overlooked resource.
  • Less than 22 inches of annual rainfall is brittle (vs. temperate.)
  • Permaculturists are deep ecologists who understand the need to collect, preserve, and use water efficiently.
  • The key concept is to slow down and hold onto rainwater on your land.
  • Use water barrels.
  • Use greywater instead of clean water for toilets and landscaping.
  • Consider alternative toilets like composting toilets or moldering toilets.
  • Dig more ponds.

Ch. 14: Mob Stocking Herbivorous Solar Conversion Lignified Carbon Sequestration Fertilization

  • Traditional farms used to be very diversified, with varieties of plants and animals working together. Modern farms specialize in one crop or animal.
  • Perennials and herbivores build soil naturally.
  • Perennials are great for building soil because they put all their energy into accumulating root reserves. They sequester lots of CO2.
  • Herbivores forage on these grasslands and close the loop.
  • Too much grain production leads to deserts.
  • Herbivores + grazing management + grasslands + compost can build great soil on eroded bare rock.
  • Traditionally, herbivores (cows, sheep, goats) were a stable and omnivores (chickens, pigs) were a luxury. Grains were expensive.
  • Cheap oil reversed this. Omnivores > Herbivores.
  • Grassland is as efficient as trees at sequestering carbon.
  • Grass + herbivores is nature’s miracle cycle.
  • Eat more grass-fed beef, less chicken, less pork, less soy.

Ch. 15: Let’s Make a Despicable Farm

  • Today’s animal farms are kept alive only by cheap oil, animal pharma, and money.

Ch. 16: Scientific Mythology: Centaurs and Mermaids Now in Supermarkets

  • Buy organic, local, unprocessed, non-genetically modified food.

Ch. 17: You Get What You Pay For

  • Farmers are often synonymous with peasants.
  • To save our environment, farming needs to attract more of our best and brightest people. Even at the very small-scale with backyard vegetable gardens and chicken coops.
  • Buy less, but higher quality food and be willing to pay more if needed.

Ch. 18: Get Your Grubby Hands

  • When you tax inheritance, you destroy farms.
  • Prosecute anyone who pollutes, especially industrial agriculture.
  • Reign back eminent domain.

Ch. 19: Sterile Poop and Other Unsavory Cultural Objectives

  • Our legal system is set up to support industrial, mono-species farms, not small, diversified family farms.

Ch. 20: I Hereby Release You from Being Responsible for Me

  • Frivolous lawsuits cost millions of dollars.
  • Due to the risk of litigation, people confuse safe with sterile.
  • Our legal system needs reform.

Ch. 21: I’m from the Government, and I’m Here to Help You — Right

  • The two enemies of the people are criminals and government. –Thomas Jefferson
  • If we want to raise responsible children, we cannot protect them from every risk.
  • Quit buying from industrial food systems.
  • The answer is not regulations that limit competition but favor industrial agriculture.

Ch. 22: The Church of Industrial Food’s Unholy Food Inquisition

  • The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is the small farmer’s version of the NRA, built to protect small farmers and food rights.