Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin is not only a must-read-book but also a must-read-twice book.
To be completely honest, after the first little while I was feeling totally overwhelmed. Because his farm is basically perfect, and we live in a little townhouse in the suburbs outside of Sydney. Because I can’t possibly do any of the things he does, or so I thought.
Oh boy, did that change. Helplessness quickly blossomed into passion and excitement as I realised there was plenty that we could still do.
What I really loved about this book was threefold:
1) Huge breadth of topics from parenting, to politics, to history, to the future… maybe you can see why I found it a little overwhelming at first, but it’s actually one of the things I ended up loving most about this book!
2) Action plans at the end of every chapter – so clever!
3) Salatin’s general attitude to change, summarised by the following (probably slightly accidentally paraphrased) quote: “Just because everyone can’t do everything, doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t do something.”
This was very quickly the attitude I adopted towards the end-of-chapter action plans. Plenty of the steps were just not at all within my reach. No big deal. I picked the ones that seemed like they were, and I’m going to run with them!
I just can’t describe in words how much I loved this book. I disagree with a few key ideologies of Joel’s, but for the most part – everything in this book is incredible. Every fact, every connection, every not-so-crazy not-quite-conspiracy-but-almost-there theory. Every hope and dream for how the planet should be.
But it’s also fun. Joel Salatin has all the sarcasm and cynicism that I want in a book written about the politics of food and the things I love to hate (such as CAFOs). I am seriously digging audio books that are actually narrated by the author.
This book has given me so much food for thought. Cooked (by Michael Pollan) was fun and interesting. Folks, This Ain’t Normal was challenging (but in a good way!), thought-provoking, and most of all, inspiring.
Since listening to my Audible copy of the book, Tyler and I have been talking. One of the things I worry about with parenting in this modern world, is the huge lack of responsibility on our kids. This has been something I have always pondered and even battled, but never really knew how to overcome.
Big change #1 in our house: Tyler will be in charge of our garden at our new place. Completely. Planting, tending, managing the worm farm, researching plants, and probably planting the wrong thing at the wrong time or in the wrong place every now and then and learning from it. This is a hard one for me. I love gardening, and I am a control freak. But I am letting go of that, because it’s the best and most age-appropriate (yet also very useful and highly functional) project for Tyler to have. I can’t wait to see him rise to the challenge.
Big change #2: Tyler wants to start making and selling…. something. He wants to start saving up some money now, for when he is older. If I hadn’t birthed him, I’d wonder who his mother is! But his first thought was bacon… That’s my boy! We’re still discussing the options on this Big Change, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something sooner or later.
Lots of little changes: Just generally being more aware of the behind-the-scenes processes. Local food was important to me before this book; more so now. We will be growing as much as we can, making as much as we can, buying in as little as we can. Decluttering (hopefully) and just generally de-stressing (okay, that last one is mostly me). Thinking about the resources in this world as we make our mark on it – trying to make as little mark on the earth as possible.
I could go on forever.
But to summarise how I feel about Folks, This Ain’t Normal, I’ve written a list of people who should read it:
1) People who think vegetarianism is sustainable.
2) People who think factory farming is efficient and productive.
3) People who think they do enough; there is always more.
4) People who DON’T believe in climate change.
5) People who DO believe in climate change.
6) People who want consumer protection.
7) People who think of farmers as just farmers.
9) People who can read. Or people who can listen to an ebook.
10) People who eat. And/or people who breathe.
11) People who think sugar should be taxed (Joel’s take on this one certainly had me thinking).
12) People who love to be challenged, who love to learn, and who are aching to do the best they can for the amazing planet they live on.
13) See #8.
Amazing. All kinds of amazing. I’ll be listening to this one again, because I think it’s the kind of book that gives you a new lesson every time. The kind of book that keeps on… booking? Giving. Educating. Inspiring. And all that jazz.
I hope you’re enjoying it too!