Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front Paperback – Sep 17 2007
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About the Author
Joel Salatin and his family own and operate Polyface Farm, arguably the nation's most famous farm since it was profiled in Michael Pollan's New York Times bestseller, The Omnivore's Dilemma and two subsequent documentaries, Food, Inc., and Fresh. An accomplished author and public speaker, Salatin has authored seven books. Recognition for his ecological and local-based farming advocacy includes an honorary doctorate, the Heinz Award, and many leadership awards.
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Forget that image. Salatin's business model is uniquely American: innovative, quality-driven, free-thinking, and customer-oriented. He has created a loyal local market for his high-quality poultry, beef, and pork, and he accepts no government monies or subsidies.
As if that wasn't hard enough, Salatin has had to constantly swim against an overwhelming tide of flawed regulations that discriminate in favor of mega-operations. "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal" tells all about that struggle, and so much more.
Salatin asks (and answers) the questions, why are small farmers and local food artisans leaving their heritage behind to work in town? Why do we, as a society, have a larger segment of our population in prison (2.5 %) than working on farms (1.5%)? Why is food quality at a low? And why are regulatory barriers keeping small producers out of the business of food production?
And how did we - the constituency, the consumers, the all-powerful "demand" part of the supply-and-demand equation -- ever buy in to the notion that the institutionalization of our food supply is inexorable and must be suffered with stoic cynicism and resignation? And what is there to do about it?
The answers to these questions matter, because the ultimate costs of these trends are huge, in terms of food quality, in terms of resource damage, and at many other levels. But the worst damage of all is the loss of whole communities and ways of life ... ways that have worked for centuries.
Entrepreneurship - and the freedom to be entrepreneurial - is a huge part of what made this country great, and in the food business, it's in grave danger. A quiet robbery has been happening right under our noses, and the villains and the victims are NOT who we think they are.
I have met Salatin and visited his farm, and he is the genuine item. His book is a must-read for everyone who cherishes freedom.
Joel does a heartfelt and beautiful job of explaining how the best intentioned goverment programs to support farming are actually destroying it, and the health and freedom of Americans along with it. It's a manifesto for local food systems. If you are interested in local food and supporting sustainable agriculture, this book should be on your shelf and gifted to those in government and academia who could make a difference but haven't.
For the record, I have been vegetarian for two decades, and that in no way diminishes my respect for Salatin or this book. Must we agree with everyone on everything in order to recognize truth when we see it? I stopped eating meat in 1989 when I learned about our factory farming system and didn't want to be part of it...but I have no problem whatsoever with folks who raise their own animals with love and respect and then eat them, or sell them to local friends. Seems natural enough to me, even if it's not my choice.
But not to the government, and that's the point of this book. Its many examples of constant gov't intrusion into every part of the food chain lay clear who runs what and why we're in the sad shape we're in, ecologically and nutritionally.
It all rings true, whether I agree with each of Salatin's political views or not. The pettiness of some of the reviews here on Am only shows why those trying to fight the moronic system aren't winning: they're too busy fighting each other! Divide and conquer? Why bother? Let us beat each other down! It's working, apparently.
Put it this way: if every adult in America read this book and knew about how our food (specifically meat) system is run, there'd be overnight change. Must we agree with all of Salatin's views on everything to give him due credit for fighting his version of the good fight?
We will all never agree on everything, nor need we. But we do need to wake up and start helping out our brothers and sisters in logic and reason, not only by buying their food but by helping them spread their version of the truth.
Especially if, as here, that truth is backed up by real world experience, written of with passion and humor. That's good enough for me.
This goes on my shelf next to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, John Robbins' Diet For A New America, and a bunch of other disturbing but necessary books on where our food really comes from.
The man is brave. He is honest. He is passionate about the things he believes. So sad that people who are afraid to know (or show) such passion have given it a few poor reviews. Whether you agree with every word or not makes no difference. The main premise of the book is that there seems to be a law against almost everything natural, these days. Most of these things were just normal a century ago. It would have been inconceivable to people to imagine that one could not slaughter an animal on one's own land. The regulations about dwellings and construction are silly in the context of the writer's way of life and his personal wishes.
We put up with these things and just keep going, but we are wrong to do so. The TSA is a travesty. The FDA is totally corrupt. But only a few people speak up. Why is this? Are they afraid? Are they asleep? Are they stupid? Or are they just sheep?
I hear all the time "The Government should do something " about this or that. NO! We should do something about it. NOT the government. When did we become such wimps? We have been brainwashed into believing we cannot change things. But we can. And we must. Joel is taking a lot of flack, but he is essentially correct.
We need an organization such as the NRA to protect the right of farmers to grow what they like. It will also protect our right to eat and drink as we please. It is hard for me to believe that (lethal) MacDonalds is legal, but (healthy) raw milk is not.
Women go to the hospital to have babies because they believe they will be safe there, when in fact they would be safer at home amoung their own germs, their own things, surrounded by people who actually care for them. Birth is natural and not a medical event at all. However we have become programmed to believe we need professional medical help. Rediculous! The AMA did a great job with propaganda when it comes to birth.
The same is true of food. I once read a funny story, but a true one about an outraged 'anti hunting' person who ranted that hunters were barbaric. He said people should go to the supermarket to buy their food because that was the civilized way to get meat. I guess he never read about how commercial beef is raised and finally slaughtered. ( I would rather eat a wild animal that had a fighting chance to get away or get shot). The sad, pathetic, unhealthy animals that make up our commercial meat supply is frightening.
Please read this book. It will open your eyes. And please don't think he is exaggerating the stupidity of regulations and of the government inspectors who enforce them. He is not. Yes, some of his passions seem to be a "rant" and that is OK, too. Why should he tamp down his emotions just to please the sleeping public? I wish he would shout them from the roof tops. Even the things I disagree with are simply his beliefs. We are all entitled to our own beliefs. No one has the right to criticize us for voicing them.
I bought a couple of extra copies of this book and plan to send it to some people who may be able to help.
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