Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal

Joel Salatin wants to give curious young apprentices hands-on training with the animals at his farm. He wants to sell his neighbor’s pickles and salsa along with his own fresh meat and dairy products. He wants to give educational tours of his farm to classes of young students. Mostly, he wants to empower Americans to participate in traditional, natural food production that will improve their health and cultivate strong local communities. The problem is, as the title of his book succinctly states, just about everything Joel Salatin wants to do is illegal.

Salatin is a farmer with 40 years of experience in ecological farming and marketing. His Polyface Farm was featured in Michael Pollan’s bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma as well as the acclaimed movie Food, Inc. In Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Salatin shares anecdotes from many of the bureaucratic battles that he, as a small farmer, has had to fight over the years. He also provides keen observations of food production in America during the past several decades and identifies how they’ve shaped our collective perception of the food industry. He then uses the same analytical thinking to project what must be done in the future to preserve the local food industry and the community life it supports.

The hemming and hawing of the “cow police,” the outrageous subjective inspections of the “chicken police,” and the whining of big-name mass producers will certainly entertain you, especially with Salatin’s straightforward narrative style. But this book will also make you share the author’s indignation toward overbearing and inefficient agricultural laws and excessive paper trails that cater to the big and powerful. Salatin reveals the truth about food manufacturing in America and inspires his readers to demand change.

Stephanie Selene Anderson

Stephanie Selene Anderson is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Selene River Press.

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food rights

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