#3 - Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin
What can I say? I'm a HUGE Joel Salatin fan. I've read all of his books - Pastured Poultry Profit$, $alad Bar Beef, You Can Farm, Family Friendly Farming (my favorite), Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer (I love that title!), and now his latest: Folks, This Ain't Normal (published just two days before my birthday - happy birthday to me!)
This book looks from many different angles on what is messed up with our food today. As the pictoral hyperbole on the cover suggests, pushing food production in ways that are not natural or sustainable "ain't normal" - historically or biologically - or good for us. With chapter titles like "A Cat Is a Cow Is a Chicken Is My Aunt", "Disodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetate - Yum!", "Dino-the-Dinosaur-Shaped Nuggets Don't Grow on Chickens", "Sterile Poop and Other Unsavory Cultural Objectives" and "I'm from the Government, and I'm Here to Help You - Right" he looks at issues as diverse as cultural ignorance about food production, GMOs, government regulations biased against small farms, balancing your gut flora, and even raising happy and productive children. Each 10-20 page chapter looks into a different facet of the problems farmers (and eaters) face today, and ends with three to ten practical ideas for solving that problem.
Salatin is not afraid to go against the mainstream and speak his mind. Quite the contrary! For example, he suggests: "Don't demand government stamps of approval for anything." "Patronize plain packaging. Pay for the product, not the packaging." "Complain to your farmer that he isn't charging enough." "Before saying anyone can't afford good food, make sure their house contains no alcohol, coffee, tobacco, soda, frozen dinners, flat-screen TVs, iPods, tattoos, or unsingable music." "Quit feeding herbivores grain. Period." "Quit landfilling any biomass. If it will decompose, it should not go in a landfill. It should rot where it can be returned to the soil." and, my personal favorite: "Replace the parakeets with two chickens. They won't make as much noise, and they'll lay eggs."
If you're not familiar with Joel Salatin's ideas, this book is a good summary of his philosophy. As a small farmer, he has a unique perspective on food production in America today, and his unique and innovative ideas make him one of the most popular and influential voices in the Real Food movement.