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Extremely Expensive Low-Cost Food with Joel Salatin – Episode 075

There is a synergy that exists between the emotional, physical, and spiritual areas of our life, and the environmental umbilicus that supports us. The question has to be asked… should we be outsourcing every area of our lives, every facet of our physical reality, and not expect the balance sheet to tip out of our favor?

This is the question posed today on Off the Grid Radio, where we’re pleased to have as our guest, Joel Salatin. Joel is a third generation farmer, a prolific writer whose books include You Can Farm, Salad Bar Beef, and his latest work, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World, and whose farm, Polyface Farm in Swope, Virginia, and agricultural methods were featured prominently in the documentary film, Food, Inc.


Off The Grid Radio
Ep 075
Released: November 11, 2011

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, as the announcer says, welcome to Off the Grid News – the radio version of I’m Brian Brawdy, as always here with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, how are you today, sir?

Bill: Brian, I’ve never been better in my life. I’m very excited, as always, about the show and our guest today. What’s exciting for me about our guest is – always when we interview – we’ve had this gentleman on before – it reminds me of when I first ran into my wife’s grandfather, Warren Parker. Working with him in the summertime and you’ve been up at the Parker House. That house has been there since the late 1830s – family’s moved out there before… The family’s been farming the same way. They’ve been forced to do biological farming because they didn’t really know too much else so they did with what they could. But every time that we ate, it’d be about 11:30, and Warren would look at me and say “it’s time to go over to the grocery store.” That meant we’d put down our hammer, nails from building a shed – we’d build our own sheds, by the way, with our own locust poles and all that stuff. We’d go over to the garden and we’d dig some potatoes and we’d pick some tomatoes and we’d grab us the best food that we could find. We would usually have some bacon or something from a hog that we butchered. That’s my get-acquainted life to the world that our guest is advocating today. Do you want to go ahead and read his biography and we’ll welcome him on?

Brian: That sounds good. Ladies and gentlemen, our guest is a third generation family farmer working his land in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with his wife Theresa, son Daniel, daughter Rachel and their families. The Polyface Farm – an organic, grass-fed farm – services more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs and was featured in the national bestseller “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and in the Oscar-nominated documentary – which, Bill, I know you saw and loved as I did – “Food, Inc.” He writes extensively in magazines such as the Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres U.S.A. and American Agriculture. HE’s been featured in numerous national media outlets such as the New York Times, Gourmet, Smithsonian, National Geographic and ABC World News with the late Peter Jennings. He’s got a new book out, Bill, which I know you’ve already read. “Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World.” Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back, Mr. Joel Salatin. Joel, how are you sir?

Joel: I’m doing well. Sounds like you guys are in fine form today.

Bill: We’re always in fine form, aren’t we Brian?

Brian: You know, the thing is, Joel – two quick things – one, I’ve been with Bill at his granddad’s place where he does that same little story, so he’s not making the story up because you’re our guest.

Joel: Oh, I can tell he’s not making it up. I could feel the vocal chords twinge in his throat.

Brian: You should see it. And his granddad’s – almost like a hallway, if you will, Joel – and the beans were all lined up in jars so you go through this gauntlet of beans to get out to the grocery store and it’s right out the door, right out the driveway. Bill, you built those sheds that are still on that property – some of those sheds are pretty amazing.

Bill: We lived the kind of life that Joel’s advocating. The thing is, things have changed. We didn’t know – we didn’t make a self-conscious decision to live that life. We’ve gone someplace. We’ve traveled down a road and now we’re wondering “gee, did we get off on the wrong turnpike or something?” That’s the only world that we knew. That’s certainly the only world that my wife’s grandfather knew. But now here we are in 2011 and, I think, thinking people are starting to say “what’s going on?” Joel, have we as a society – and this is a friendly audience, I’ve mentioned that to you before, so feel free to use theological – I know you don’t just grow food, you’ve got a theology of food. I appreciate that. But I don’t think American consumers – Christian Americans – have a theology or a philosophy of food. Do you want to comment on that idea?

Joel: That’s for sure. Food has moved from a visceral communion, if you will, to feed our 3 trillion member internal community of beings to simply being a pit stop that we have to do between what’s important in life. It’s simply – food is just a … latest ideology in this whole happiness and self-satisfaction and sustenance all come from outside. They’re all outsourced rather than in-sourced from within, whether it’s from our own beingness or whether it’s from our own homes. The cottage industry has become a Dilbert cubicle in a global network. We have this incredible disconnect on a lot of levels – emotional, physical, spiritual – from our – I call it our ecological umbilical. It manifests itself in a lot of ways – food is just one of those ways. That’s why I discuss in the book – I deal with children’s chores and energy and all the different ramifications of this disconnectedness.

Bill: It seems like we’ve really crossed the line. I think a frequent theme here on this show, Joel, is we like the division of labor because I think modern dentistry can be pretty powerful compared to … I’m a little bit of a closet historian. I realize how much pain people were in a hundred years ago in different ways. No one – and I know you’re not, even as I read in your book, you’re not saying “let’s become Luddites and let’s tremble back into the Dark Ages.” But there’s a sense in which we’ve outsourced everything. Should we be outsourcing every area of our life to big ag, big pharma, big government? Doesn’t it seem like – we drove down this road but were we just busy? What happened?

Joel: I think that the allure that you can get something for nothing – I think that’s ubiquitous in the human psyche. Everybody’s looking for something for nothing. Look how many people play the lottery. We know the math actuarials make that the poorest investment you could ever possibly make with a dollar and yet people play the lottery all the time because there’s something in the human psyche that is lured by something for nothing. Eldorado … [laughs] it’s been with us for a long, long time.

Bill: wouldn’t you say too – let’s talk about something in the news – the Occupy Wall Street idea. What’s fascinating to me, and I’d love to hear you comment on this, is both the protesters and the bankers they’re protesting have never butchered a pig outside in the open air like you and I have. They’ve never processed any chickens like you and I have. I’ve just butchered a bunch of ducks over the weekend.

Joel: How’d you get the feathers off? [laughs]

Bill: I breasted them out. I cheated a little bit. I breasted them out because I was in a hurry because I had some family. But we ate the duck the same day. We ate the duck the same day with some orange marmalade and garlic onions – a feast. Guess what? I didn’t die, even though there were feathers on there and there was some bb’s in there, some steel shot. I let it sit out for a little while. There wasn’t much stainless steel. I threw the breasts on some wood when I was done instead of in a baggie. [laughs] Then I threw them in a little salt water and later on we cooked them up and ate them. And guess what? No one got sick. No one had any problems. I guess – and we’re going to go to a break here – but maybe when we come back from the break, I’d like to know in this Occupy Wall Street idea, the people that are protesting – they’re so disconnected – they want something for nothing. They want Eldorado, as you mentioned. The bankers are robbing us blind – they want something for nothing. Here’s one of those worlds where because of the paradigms that they’re both in, they can’t have a reconciliation without some sort of a biblical look at this. But neither side can – they just are going to talk past each other because they both want something that’s metaphysically beyond the realm of the possible. When we come back – Brian can maybe take us to a break – when we come back, let’s talk a little bit about that – what happened, why they can’t think that through. I’d love to get your comments.

Joel: Sure.

Brian: Alright, ladies and gentlemen, as Bill says, we’re going to run to a quick break. Come on back. A few commercials and then the author of the new book “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” Right after this break.

[0:10:11 – 0:14:41 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid News – the radio version of Brian Brawdy, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid and today, a very special guest. Friend of the show – he does so many things, Bill, but I think what I’d like to focus on now is just saying he is the author of “Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World.” We’re back with Mr. Joel Salatin. Joel, how are you sir?

Joel: I’m doing well. Doing well.

Brian: I was thinking in the break, I don’t know how far you are from it, but I have relatives that are in your neck of the woods, I think, in the Shenandoah Valley. My grandmother – let’s just say it this way – the Waltons – remember the old TV show – the Waltons are in my family tree. Even though I grew up, as Bill knows, in New York, every summer my mom would send us down – poor thing, she raised five kids by herself – she would have to send some of us down to a farm not far from Walton Mountain. The reason that I mention that to you is it always takes me back when I’m out at Bill’s granddad’s place. You see the jars of beans and you see the farm, Bill saying “let’s head out to the grocery store …” But I had an Uncle Tump – a quick, 30-second little story about my Uncle Tump – one night he comes in and gets me, kicks the foot of the bed. It’s probably 8:30. This is the same guy that taught me how to catch June bugs, tie thread to their legs – you talk about video games or remote control? We would catch June bugs, tie thread to their legs, and fly them around like remote control planes. That’s what we did. All the people from PETA, please don’t call in because of the unethical treatment of June bugs. But Uncle Tump kicked me one day and said “boy, come on out here with me.” Joel, he took a stick, wrapped an old ratty shirt around it, covered it with gasoline, then he walks up to a tree at this hornets’ nest, takes his cigar out, lights that thing on fire, stuck it right up underneath the hornets’ nest. Joel, the hornets were fuming – they were on fire, they were flying all over the place. I’ll never forget my old Uncle Tump – overalls – never saw him not wearing overalls, dirty work boots and the like, standing there smoking on that butt of his cigar watching those hornets buzz all around him and kamikaze into the ground because they’re on fire. I just wanted to share that little story with you. When I read Shenandoah Valley and I hear Bill talking about early on with his granddad, it makes me think of my Uncle Tump fighting those hornets.

Joel: That’s a great segue into this question that we had about the Occupy Wall Street and all that. The fact is, that we’ve become a culture of victims, of victimhood. One of the – your uncle there, taking that gasoline shirt – how many people today who are at the top of their video game, for example, the ace driver on the fantasy game – can imagine doing what he just did because they’re scared to death of getting that viscerally connected with the physical world, with life. I think this idea of one of the things in “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” – a theme that runs through the book is – that’s why there’s a bulleted section after each chapter – is an action list of taking personal responsibility. I can’t believe how many people say “I just can’t. I can’t. I don’t have time. I don’t have money. I don’t have this … I don’t have that.” We’ve become a nation of whiners and “I just can’t.” Boy, when we meet somebody who just takes the bull by the horns or the hornets by the gas-drenched burning rag and does something, everybody just parts – it’s like Moses on the Red Sea. Everybody parts because here’s somebody that – “I’m not going to whine. I’m not going to be a victim. I’m just going to take charge here. I’m not going to give over my food system to Kraft and Monsanto and Cargill. I’m going to grow some stuff or find some stuff and find out how to can and how to freeze and how to make fruit leather and preserve. I want to walk through my larder so that when I wake up in the morning I have this nesting sense of security walking through my larder knowing – you know what? If the teamsters strike, if the power goes off, if chaos happens and the supermarket shelves are empty – you know what? We can live for a year, very, very happily on stuff that we put up seasonally.” That is historically normal living and normal cottage security.”

Brian: Joel, do you call it normal or would you call it natural? Because I’m beginning to think the new norm or normal is what people do now, but it’s natural. I loved in reading your book, you’ve got a really great quote – an editorial review, oddly enough from a friend of mine, Richard Louv who wrote “The Last Child in the Woods.” he said that “you’re a down to earth, 21st Century pioneer. One of those rare contrarian thinkers whose words and work have the power to transform the way a generation thinks. “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” will help seed the new nature movement and inspire people everywhere, especially young people, in the need of some practical hope. Here’s the bonus – “the book is great fun to read,” and then he ends the quote, Bill – Richard Louv ends the quote about Joel’s book saying “sacred cows beware.”

Bill: That’s a great quote.

Brian: Joel, are you talking more about natural than the normal?

Joel: Well, my word is normal … natural’s just – I don’t know, it’s abused, it’s been overused. What I wanted to do was to shock this generation into realizing that what we call this modern 21st Century America, where we cavalierly run around and think that for the first time in human civilization we don’t have to eat food that you can pronounce. We don’t have to eat food that you know anything about. We can outsource that. We don’t have to worry about where our energy comes from – you plug it into the wall, isn’t that where energy comes from? We think that we can extricate ourself, basically abdicate, every visceral, physical responsibility that we’ve had through human civilization and we’re going to be fine in some Star Trek existence. The fact is, that is not only not normal, it doesn’t stand the test of the balance sheet of the economy of ecology and civilizational economies. It just doesn’t.

Bill: Joel, we’re supposed to be good stewards, right? The Bible talks about stewardship all the time. That stewardship runs the gamut – and this is why I like covenantal thinking with respect to a – we’re going to have a covenant with those that produce our own food. We’re going to have a covenant with our family with respect to how we’re going to eat and where are food security’s going to come from. If you have stewardship – this goes back to – I know you went to Bob Jones and you may have some Dutch rhythms – we talked about Abraham Kuyper before. Kuyper talked about sphere sovereignty. This fits into your book perfectly. He said the first form of government – when someone says government now, the first thing we think of is Sammy, right? Sammy’s going to send the SWAT team after the Amish and that’s government in action. Kuyper’s idea of government was self-government. And if you got pretty good at that, Joel, you’d get yourself a wife and then pretty soon there’d be some kids and you’d be in charge of family government. If you got pretty good at that, someone from the church would say it to you – “Joel, you ought to be an elder and be in the church.” And if you got pretty good … in other words, civil government was way down the line. Self-government was … you have to be in covenant with God and yourself, with respect to what kind of food you’re going to eat. You have to be a good steward, first and foremost, and make decisions about – Brian and I talk about this all the time – you’ve got to make decisions about what foods you’re going to eat and be a good steward over the body that you’ve been so graciously given.

Joel: That’s right. And one of the most powerful and profound realities of our time is that each of us is dependent on this 3 trillion member, internal community of bacteria and everything that we eat, we in turn are completely dependent on an unseen world of food bacteria and fungi and actinomycetes and mychorrhizae and all these gibberellins and things in the soil where there are more individual beings than there are people on the face of the earth, in every double handful of healthy soil. Here we are, internally and externally – in the soil and internally in us – MIT now says we’re only 15% human, 85% non-human – all this fungi, bacteria, and viruses swirling around our heads like Pigpen in a Charlie Brown comic strip. The fact is, everything that we see is completely and utterly dependent on this invisible, microscopic world and yet that community of beings that we’re utterly dependent on doesn’t make the – the P&L statement – it doesn’t make the balance sheet, it doesn’t make the business plan. We shower in the morning and never even think about it. One of the things I try to do in this book is to bring people up to speed that at the end of the day it really does matter if the earthworms are dancing or not. It really does.

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break on that thought – it really does matter if the earthworms are dancing. Come on back after this short break, the author of “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.”

[0:25:01 – 0:29:22 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid News. Bill, talk about a different paradigm – Joel sure has that nailed. He’s got a new book out – “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” I’ve got to tell you, I can’t think of a better idea of a Christmas gift than giving someone this book, because it could set them up for a pretty cool launch to 2012, Bill.

Bill: What I like about Joel’s writing, and I think – Joel – this is probably your best book – what I like about your writing is it’s hard to put it back down. of course I’m interested in this to begin with, but I think our listeners are interested in it and I agree with Brian, I’m going to give this book personally to the closest people in my family because a lot of books you give people and they’re not going to read them, but if they start to read this they probably won’t put it down. What I like about it, as he said before, there’s an action plan – how do you get involved? I’m thinking about Joel’s dad. Joel’s dad came from a different world, from an old world. That’s the kind of grandfather that my wife Kim had. It’s just a different world. He memorized poems when he was young in school and I’m thinking about what advantage Joel’s dad would have if he lived in the world today because he wouldn’t be afraid to go start a company like Apple or butcher a pig if he didn’t know how. He would take the torch and burn out some bees, some hornets, if he had to. Don’t you think those guys – I know they may be – technologically it may take them a while to catch up, but that can-do American, independent – that Yankee spirit that existed in this country at one time was the engine that drove this whole stinking country.

Joel: It was a total mindset of independence, of a lack of dependency. Today – even the big fat cat bankers, they said they were dependent on a government bailout. Come on, people, can’t you be more creative than that? Look, if you made a mistake, own up to it, say “we’re going to change direction.” People are very forgiving if you own up to mistakes. Even if you’re a bad guy, people warm up to an apology, to asking forgiveness. We’re like that, that’s built into us as humans. But no, the only creative thing they can do is to lobby congress and get a bailout plan to forestall the inevitable. This idea that we are completely dependent on somebody else … and people come to the concepts in this book – it’s amazing how many people come to the concept of this book, even if it’s something as simple as growing a tomato plant in a patio potted garden and “I don’t have time … I don’t know how to do that.” My goodness, you have plenty of time and energy to go passionately find out about the latest body tattoo or piercing in the Hollywood celebrity scene. Can’t you figure out how to put a tomato seed in a pot on a patio?

Bill: Joel, think of the things you could be doing. You could be on home shopping buying stuff that you don’t need instead of planting tomatoes. Don’t you think that’s kind of valuable, watching home shopping network all day long? Or seeing what Montel’s talking about that day?

Joel: Sure, it’s important for the Chinese economy.

Bill: Get your fingers dirty, people. I think that’s the message of this book, is if you’ve got an option at all – if you can’t grow your own food you can get to know the people who do grow your food. There’s always something that you can do. You can pray for people that grow food. Our farmers need encouragement. Our farmers need to … they need a pep talk, Joel, so that they’re not … they need to have that old Yankee independence and they need to push off from this idea that they’re like the bankers. Don’t you think that that’s true? It’s almost this entitlement idea and this idea where – what you were talking about earlier with the banks – “if I make money, I keep it. If I lose money, you’re going to pay for it or we split it …” or whatever goofy thing that they can come up with. Farmers, the big guys, have that perspective too. We’ve got to keep our little guys, our smaller farmers, independent with their chins up and with hope for the future.

Joel: Well, sure, and it all runs around relationships and forgiveness. Part of the beauty of knowing where your food comes from – for example, if you knew – I ran into a lady in Toronto, she lived in a fifth floor condominium in the huge city of Toronto. She had a baby – she and her husband had a baby, she did the work and he didn’t do much. she had this baby and she decided “we’re responsible for this life,” so they took a year and they took their entire entertainment and recreation budget and they said “here’s how much we were going to spend and the time we were going to spend entertaining ourselves. We’re going to take one year and go on a food treasure hunt around Toronto and find our food treasures.” They took that year and did it as their whole recreational entertainment thing and at the end of the year she told me “our pantry does not have a bar code in it.” I’m not saying it’s sinful to have a bar code. What I am saying though is that that’s the kind of example of an independent spirit. That’s a person who said “y’now, convictionally, I believe in this and I know I’m working a job. I know I don’t have that much time … but I’m going to make this commitment to that.” We can do that. People say “I don’t have time to cook. I don’t have time to take unprocessed food and fix it in my kitchen.” Good grief, your grandmother would have given her eye teeth for your Cuisinart and your food mill, time bake … indoor plumbing so you can wash dishes, hot water on demand. We have so many labor-saving, time-saving gadgets to then go on and say “I also have to be dependent on microwaveable boxed DiGiorno’s frozen TV dinners” – give me a break. Turn off the TV and cancel the Disney vacation. Get your kids in the kitchen. You can turn this into a chemistry and a math experiment, to teach fractions and half a tablespoon, and a quarter cup and all this stuff. This is how kids traditionally learned their math and science skills. Look what happens when you eat something, what happens when you add alcohol to it or dice it and slice it and puree it … a kitchen is a place to learn about life and about living, and to learn how food undergoes a change in its essence as it becomes flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones. Then to know the farmer and to pet the cow before you eat the T-bone steak. To know the chicken before she gives you an egg. This is such a critical element in understanding the cycle of life, the decomposition, regeneration and the whole cycle of life that makes sacredness out of this thing that we call intimate dining.

Bill: Joel, the mom that’s not spending her time in the kitchen with her kids, or the dad, do you know what they’re doing now? I’ve got a little quiz for you – this is hypothetical. They’re on Amazon shopping for books that tell them and teach them how to spend more time with their kids in an ever so busy world. What’s interesting about this, and I think this is a theological, philosophical perspective as well, it seems as though once we’ve adopted a proposition, we accept it as almost something has been done. Once you press “add to cart” and then you click “one-click order” you think you’ve actually spent that time with your kids because you’ve adopted a propositional idea that you’re going to potentially someday – but it’s up there in the ether, guys, it’s not real. In the time that you could be reading a book – listen, I didn’t know anything about butchering a hog. I just butchered a hog. I just started. You don’t need to adopt the proposition, you need to re-adopt your child.

Joel: Yes. And, in fact, I have a whole … I start the book with this whole section about children and chores and the difference in self-affirmation, this self-awareness, the difference between, for example, looking at a nicely stacked pile of wood or jars canned neatly on the shelf of a pantry that you have participated in. The difference in the feeling that that evokes in a child’s self-worth and self-affirmation compared to being the high points makers in the video game. So what – that’s just a fantasy world. It’s nothing. In the big scheme of life, it doesn’t really add to your sense that you can do anything. How much reality is the fact that you’re the high points guy in the car race on the fantasy game? But if you can actually do something – pound a nail, grow a plant, cook a meal, knit, crochet, make a dress, pound a horseshoe. If you can actually do something, I think that our culture has absolutely marginalized, if not demonized, the whole working with your hands and artisanal skills that still make the country run. I think it actually takes away a lot of the personhood of people when the only thing that brings you personhood accolades is that you created another fantasy cyber world on your computer at the Dilbert cubicle and vanished it into the ethos with a send button at the end of the day for a global corporate agenda.

Brian: Speaking of the global, corporate agenda, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break. We’ll be right back after these short messages.

[0:40:49 – 0:45:04 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, as the announcer says, welcome back to Off the Grid Radio. Getting you ready to prepare for the worst. Our guest today is absolutely doing that. Bill, he is the author of a great new book – “Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World.” As I said in the last break, Bill, I can’t think of a better gift to give. It’s one of those – you could go on real quick and download an eBook, but this is one of the books that you want to have on your shelf. This is a book that you want to give so that when someone rips open the wrapping paper, they have a sense of this being so much more than just a book. It’s a blueprint. It’s directions for how to begin 2012 in a powerful way.

Bill: Exactly, Brian. It’s a blueprint for a better life and it’s a potentially life changing book, if people can read it and actually do something. The reason I like Joel’s writings and why I’m fond of Joel in general is that Joel understands that philosophy – people say “I don’t have a philosophy” – then you do, because you’re somebody that says that you don’t have a philosophy. Everything is positing ultimate, so we all have to decide this question – what’s the most important thing? That’s something you won’t hear on FOX, you won’t hear that on CNN – what’s the most important thing? Wouldn’t the question “what’s the most important thing” be the most important thing? It should be self-evidencing, right? That it’s the most important thing. Joel’s book says … drags you down a little bit into that idea. You’ve got to wrestle with what’s the most important thing with your life. We walk into a grocery store and we say “what’s the most important thing with respect to how we’re going to eat?” If you do that in a shoe store and say “what’s the most important thing – price. I’m going to buy the cheapest possible shoes that I can get.” We’ve all done that at some point in our lives, we’ve bought cheap shoes. And guess how expensive a pair of cheap shoes is? There’s a price to pay – in sore feet, in time – I even have a sore back if I wear bad shoes, and chiropractor bills. I could spend hundreds, thousands of dollars, because I refuse to spend $90 on a pair of shoes. I want to talk to Joel about the high cost of low-priced food. Joel, I’ve heard farmers – good, well meaning folks – I’ve got neighbors, I love them, I’ve grown up with them. They call you up and challenge you – they’re advocates for the lowest cost food. They say “food prices are cheaper here than anywhere else in the world. You’re living like a king.” Are we really living like a king?

Joel: If we are, I don’t want to be a part of royalty that leads the world in the five most chronic debilitating physical ailments that we have in the world right now. We’ve replaced Small Pox and Undulating Fever – and I’m glad we’ve done that, primarily through hygiene, indoor plumbing, stainless steel and refrigeration – but we’ve replaced that now with a highly pathogenic, food-recall listeria campylobacter and type 2 diabetes and these chronic ailments that are afflicting us due to a nutrient deficient food supply – and other things as well, surely – lack of exercise and other things. We’ve traded the devil for the witch. It’s time to realize that you get what you pay for. We say that, as you said, for shoes. We say it for boom boxes, we say it for salaries – all sorts of things – but somehow when it comes to food, we’re supposed to be extremely healthy and yet have the cheapest per capita expenditure on food of any civilization in history. We’ve exchanged in the last 35 years, 18 percent per capita expenditure on food and 9 percent on health care with, today, 9 percent on food and 18 percent on health care. I think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to think that those two are probably related.

Bill: It seems like that older generation too, the point that I would make with Brian once in a while, is that when we would go up to the Parker house – and Warren Parker, my friend, my wife’s grandfather – lived into his 90s and lived a good life and worked hard. But he also drank some whisky. I think if the average guy drank some whisky, like Warren did, and lived a little bit – I think he smoked quite a bit in his earlier age – but the average guy doesn’t have the advantage of all those micronutrients and all of that living stuff going on that you were mentioning earlier. If you take alcohol and tobacco and you give it to somebody and then put them in a sterile environment, I’d say they’re going to live about the same average life that the average doctor in our country lives, which is about 55 years old. There’s something to be said for this business. I think you can take some health hits by living normally, as you say, that you can’t take if you live in a sterile, clinical environment.

Joel: Absolutely. Just like fuel for your automobile – if everything is tweaked perfectly in the automobile, fuel that’s not perfect – you can still survive but you start having carbon on the valves and a bunch of big problems and it becomes less and less forgiving That’s the same way it is – or you can call it forgiveness, resiliency, whatever – but it becomes less forgiving. Our bodies are similar to that in that they multiply each individual issue. If you’re a couch potato and you eat perfectly, you have a certain set of health variables. If you’re extremely active and you don’t eat as well, you’re probably as good as the couch potato that eats healthy. But why don’t we do what we know we ought to do? Be active and, of course, this involves spiritual and emotional health as well, to forgive people and to not be stressed about these things and to live a lifestyle that’s not stressful as well. Cheap food creates cheapening in the farm itself. We’ve cut a lot of corners in farming to make cheap food. It’s in the book, we had our eggs tested at labs and our eggs averaged 1100 micrograms of folic acid per egg compared to the USDA standard of 37 out of the industrial egg factories. There’s a lot of difference.

Bill: Let me stop you for a second, Joel. Not only that just quantitatively – your Vitamin E was seven times – your numbers are through the roof with respect to what you do. But these are bioavailable. This isn’t a vitamin. These look like numbers like you’re comparing apples and apples, but I think there’s an exponential idea so that if you’re getting 7.37 milligrams of Vitamin E compared to not even a milligram, that availability compared to what a vitamin’s giving you is even more profound than those numbers on paper.

Joel: Yeah, you can’t just replace this with a pill at the general nutrition store. It’s a different deal because we are holistic beings. We are multi-dimensional and all relational within ourselves. We live in a culture that’s decidedly a kind of Western, linear, reductionist, compartmentalized, fragmented, parts-oriented, disconnected, individualized kind of thinking where nothing relates to anything. That’s part of the point of this book is, yes, it does relate. We need to be thinking about how the way we live, the decisions we make impact our children’s generation and the air, the soil and the water that we drink and our greater ecological womb here, the creation that’s been given to us for a nest. We need to be thinking long-term about today’s ramifications onto that nest.

Bill: Let’s segue a little bit and talk about – I think it’s confusing to consumers … the first and best thing you can do is grow your own food, get some books on growing your own food and make sure that you grow biologically. Joel, you touch on some principles in your book. Let’s say, because we do live in an advanced division of labor society, not everyone can do that. The next step, I think, is confusing because if I’m a consumer and I live in New York City, like Brian grew up, I think I’d go down – if I listened to this podcast, I’d go down to a grocery store and try to buy stuff that said “well, geez, I’m not going to buy beef that’s been fed other beef brains.” You can tell us some of the stuff that’s in the average food in a feedlot thing and scare us, like “Food, Inc.” But then you say “I’m going to buy organic,” but to me – I’m a libertarian hippie – organic’s nothing but a government license, isn’t it? Tell me about what your views on …

Joel: Certainly since the government began licensing organic, it has continued to adulterate the prices way down. The fact is – you’ll love this – that any time that an organization grants a certification and the organization’s budget is dependent on granting certifications, that certification will erode and erode and erode as surely as the sun’s going to come up tomorrow, because they don’t want to deny certifications due to the fact that more certifications is a bigger budget.

Bill: Yeah, the government bureaucrat’s going to maximize his utility value as well. I think that’s a mistake that people – free enterprise people forget that. You take a smart guy and put him in a situation like that and he’s going to maximize utility value of his time. He’s going to extend his influence.

Joel: Absolutely. If he can hire three people under him, guess what? He goes up the employee scale. That’s a prejudice within all of these certification kinds of things. That’s why the best certifications are certifications that are consumer driven or totally independent of budgetary – for example, here’s a certification that would work – like AAA on certifying hotels. Hotels aren’t paying for that service, it’s the AAA members that are asking a third-party organization to certify that. But that’s not what we have in organic certification. It’s not even what we have in the American Medical Association. It’s self-certification and self-certification becomes self-serving.

Bill: it always becomes – and people wonder why government grows. It grows fast at times, it grows slow at times, but on balance it grows.

Joel: Sure. The question “I live in New York City so what do I do?” There is a host of alternative marketing venues in New York City from the green markets where individual farmers come to individual little butcher shops where you can go and they will say “we get it from this farm, this farm, this farm.” Go out and visit that farm. Again, like the lady in Toronto that I talked about earlier in the program, let that be your one-year treasure hunt. Can there be more important things to treasure hunt than what becomes flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones? You can cancel that Disney vacation, you can cancel that Caribbean cruise. I’m not saying you can never go, I’m just saying – let’s put some attention on this neglected point of informational seeking and passion for a while. Get your nose out of the People magazine and go find some of this. Be empowered to do that. You’d be surprised what’s out there. Every one of our cities is ringed by a whole bunch of farms that are ready to access that city with high-quality food, unprocessed food, local economies. You can partake of that. It’s right at your fingertips.

Bill: Joel, what I hear you saying, and I want to make sure that I’m understanding you correctly, because it does sound a little bit like a Star Trek episode. You’re saying that people should leave their own ship and go out and – if I hear you correctly, you’re saying actually talk to other people about things, food and stuff? Is that … actually talk to other people?

Joel: That’s pretty intimidating, isn’t it? [laughs]

Bill: I’ve never heard of that before and I’m sure some of our listeners – this will be the first time they’ve ever been introduced to that idea …

Joel: That’s the whole point of this book is that – I know you’re being very satirical …

Bill: I’m being playful. We have real smart listeners, by the way.

Joel: But the fact is, we have a culture – you don’t realize that the first supermarket did not even exist until 1946. That’s not that far away. As I travel and I speak a lot at these conferences and I meet all these people under 40 years old, especially, and they can’t imagine a world without TV dinners, a world without supermarkets, a world without plug-in energy, a world without indoor plumbing. It is totally foreign – a world where you can’t just get all your energy out of a gas pump at the filling station down the street, to go wherever you want to go. My whole point in this book is not that all of that is bad, it is that we have now had the first generation that has been completely immersed in a historically civilizational abnormality. It is a great error – it is egocentric error – to think that this blip of abnormality can exist into the future without any balancing of historical economies.

Bill: And Joel, I would also say – and Jeremy’s signaling for me that it’s time to close up shop a little bit – but wouldn’t you say too, in closing, that a generation immersed in that sort of a strange brew probably can be easily influenced by a demagogue as well? Aren’t they easily … couldn’t a generation be very – if they’re so disconnected, that umbilical cord has been totally disconnected to reality, aren’t they subject to demagoguery with respect to political elections and promises and so forth?

Joel: Absolutely, because they don’t know the stuff that makes us self-reliant, independent and non-victims. They don’t know – they don’t have the mentality and don’t think about these things. Extricating ourself from that kind of risk, I think, is a matter of national security.

Bill: That’s a great point. Brian, any other thoughts as we – other than we all loved the book.

Brian: Yeah, I would say, Bill – I would go back to the idea of a holiday and Christmas gift idea. I love hanging out with Joel, whenever we get an opportunity. This book is everything that I thought that it would be. Joel, I guess I would thank you for your time – thanks for taking Bill back to when he was younger and taking me back to my Uncle Tump in my mind. We always appreciate having you on the show.

Joel: Thank you so much for having me, it has been an absolute pleasure.

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, don’t forget the book is called “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” We’re going to have it on our website as well. You can check him out on Also, he’s got a page on Facebook. Hit Joel up on Facebook. Joel, we thank you again. Ladies and gentlemen, as always, thank you for listening to Off the Grid News. Please continue to email us your questions, your comments, your critiques, even guest suggestions – to info@offthegridnews. You can find us on Facebook as well by going to Of course follow us on Twitter @offgridnews. On behalf of everyone at Solutions from Science, our parent company, and here in the studio with Mr. Bill Heid and Jeremy Jennings – thank you so much for an hour of your day. We know time is valuable and it truly is an honor to be able to share that hour with you.

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