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The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer Paperback – September 8, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Polyface; 8.9.2010 edition (September 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963810960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963810960
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About Joel
Joel F. Salatin (born 1957) is an American farmer, lecturer, and author whose books include You Can Farm and Salad Bar Beef.

Salatin raises livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Meat from the farm is sold by direct-marketing to
consumers and restaurants.

In high school, Salatin began his own business selling rabbits, eggs, butter and chicken from his family farm at the Staunton Curb Market. He then attended Bob Jones University where he majored in English and was a student leader. He graduated in 1979. Salatin married his childhood sweetheart in 1980 and became a feature writer at the Staunton,
Virginia newspaper, The News Leader, where he had worked earlier typing obituaries and police reports.

Tired of "having his stories spiked," he decided to try farming full-time after first getting involved in a walnut-buying station run by two high school boys. Salatin's grandfather had been an avid gardener and beekeeper and a follower of J. I. Rodale, the founder of regenerative organic gardening. Salatin's father worked as an accountant and his mother taught high school physical education. Salatin's parents had bought the land that became Polyface after losing a farm in Venezuela to political turmoil. They had raised cattle using organic methods, but could not make a living at farming alone.

Salatin, a self-described "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer" produces high-quality "beyond organic" meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, sustainable agriculture. Jo Robinson, the author of Pasture Perfect: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products From Grass-Fed Animals (2004) said of Salatin, "He's not going back to the old model. There's nothing in county extension or old-fashioned ag science that really informs him. He is just looking totally afresh at how to maximize production in an integrated system on a holistic farm. He's just totally innovative."

Salatin considers his farming a ministry, and he condemns the negative impact on his livelihood and lifestyle of what he considers an increasingly regulatory approach taken by the agencies of the United States government toward farming. Salatin now spends a hundred days a year lecturing at colleges and to environmental groups.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll get the negatives out of the way up front. First, this is basically a re-write of earlier works. The same themes, the same stories, the same references, appear over and over again in Salatin's work. He's sort of like your crazy uncle who tells the same stories every Christmas. If you have read You Can Farm or Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, you will be able to complete his thoughts without reading to the end of the paragraph. Second, he needs a decent proofreader. There are an annoying number of typos of the sort that spell check doesn't catch. Third, he ends every chapter with the same sentence... a silly and irritating device. Finally, there's a ton of white space, blank pages between chapters, etc. Delete those pages and all of the stories we've heard in other books and this would be a 50-page pamphlet.

Should you read this? Despite the complaints, my answer is yes. It's the kind of message that you can't hear too often. Salatin gets under your skin. You really feel like his crusade should be your crusade. You start thinking of things that you can do to defeat Monsanto, CAFOs, industrial corn, and the rest. Your list of acceptable restaurants dwindles. Your shopping habits change dramatically. You see the countryside with new eyes when you go on car trips. You sneer (moderately) when you see a weedy field with a few cows and no electric fencing. You get hungry.

Buy the book, read it, and then pass it on to a friend. You'll be glad you did.
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I am a library patron. But I bought this book because I couldn't stand the thought of the 1 - 2 year wait until it would likely be available. And, I'm glad I did. I notice another reviewer had some of the same critiques I did, startling number of typos (startling in that Mr. Salatin rightly promotes professionalism and attention to detail) and repetition from earlier works. None-the-less, I delighted in all of it. I think it would be an excellent work to recommend to those you'd like to expose to this way of life and think you've likely only got one shot to make a case. But to that end, I wish this work, like his others, had the suggested reading section at the end. Such a list was, after all, how I found Joel Salatin in the first place.

Will you like this book? If you're of the Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry, Eliot Coleman persuasion - or want to be - then you'll love it and should go ahead and get it.
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Joel Salatin never fails to make me think deeply about the status quo. Polyface Farms books are always incredible, but in this one Salatin presents an intelligent and spiritual commentary on his life's work. Lunatic Farmer is an easy read, packed full of amazing bits of agricultural teachings and personal wisdom. His ideas about stewardship are sensible and inspiring. Each chapter contains detailed information about Polyface practices, yet the writing is clear and entertaining. Although the theme is profound, you'll be laughing every few pages for sure. If everyone who considers themselves an animal rights advocate (or environmentalist) reads this book, there just might be an agricultural revolution! At the very least, we could experience a much needed awakening about what's really happening to our landscape and our society.

"You can tell the greatness of a nation by the way it treats its animals" M. Ghandi
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So first off, I like Joel Salitin and what he does. this book however seems to be more about proving to all his neighbors that he and his dad were right all along to not be using chemical inputs and bad grazing management practices. they were right of course, but I know that already. Joel is very knowledgeable about a lot of farming and ecological matters and his skill at matching his farm practices to the cycles of nature is truly great. however, the narrative is smug and self serving with a terminal dose of "i told you so". Happy as I am that the world has come to regard Joels farming practices as sensible, a book describing them in detail with reference to why they work better than traditional methods would have been a much better read. rather than being informed about how Joel farms, the reader is informed on how right Joel is...

I would recommend reading Michael Pollan for the Polyface Farms story. he's a much better writer and there's really not that much more info in this book, unless you are really interested in how right Joel Salitin is and how often he proves it to his neighbors and the government.
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Format: Paperback
Well, shoot. Now I want to be a farmer. A locally-based, community-imbedded, environmentally-enhancive, nutrient-dense farmer.

I'm shocked, angry, excited and passionate all at once. Reading this book is like taking the blue pill, and I'm walking around now, blinking, with port-holes all over my body and driving around in a very sketchy little spaceship thing, wondering what the heck to do and where to go from here. After offering husband the blue pill, we both swore off globalist, mega-corporate, industrialized food ("concentration-camp food").

Now we are looking for land. I can't believe I just wrote that. You see how powerful this book is? It has completely, 100% changed our lives. We, who know nothing about farming and everything about our modern society, want to live a life of integrity, meaning and purpose in healing our land, creating real food, and making thousands of beings happy.

Thank you, Joel Salatin. We are excited to travel across the country to one day meet your farm. And your Chickeny-chickens, Pigerators and Salad-Bar Beefers. In the meantime... know anybody who has spare land in Northern California?

Buy this book, if you want to change yours and your children's and their children's lives. It's a blue pill, be warned. Very much looking forward to inhaling Joel Salatin's other books as we save up for them. Worthy investment!
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