You Can Farm by Joel Salatin—Book Review


Hello Everyone!

Well I finished reading You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin. I’ve got some mixed reviews for it, so let’s get to it!


Well this is Joel’s “go to it” book from 1998. Joel urges all people, especially young people, to get into farming. He offers advice on growing markets, markets that haven’t been tapped and gives do’s and don’ts for someone starting a farm. I would describe this as a book of large, general information and practices, but no details. As are most of Salatin’s books, it’s highly political.

My Take:

First off, I’m gonna say that this book is totally outdated. I was kinda disappointed but I still managed to fully read 2/3’s of it before I started skimming. Unfortunately since the invention of the internet, ideas and practices flow so fast that any book over 5 years old is totally irrelevant. Especially how-to books. All ideas proclaimed as “good” in this book have been exploited and overdone by now. Some still make decent money, but a lot of them depend on a large city population with “rich” people nearby to buy your products. It was a great model in 1998, but it’s exploited now.

Secondly, Joel of course uses this book to push his self-proclaimed “libertarian” agenda. Really he just says that hippies are stupid, that liberals ruin everything and that you should strive to be someone you’re not in order to fit in. My opinion is more fully explained in my article “Inflexible and Unyielding” . I won’t make you sit through it again! It is possible that Salatin’s views have changed since 1998, but I’m more inclined to believe that the editors have censored him in light of the “political correctness” revolution that we are suffering through. He also has a tendency to put all the future on the shoulders of the younger generation, but then easily says they are the cause of every problem imaginable. It’s sort of hard to get up the motivation to do anything when we are blamed for everything anyway.

Last and not least, this book is really worth a read. If you can get around Salatin’s political views and the outdated information in the book, there are some fantastic little nuggets to inspire you on your homestead. I firmly believe that looking into the past can teach us how to move forward in the future. I pulled quite a few ideas about our chickens from this book by accident when Salatin told some stories about his life and his friends. There is something positive to be had yet from this book!

Overall: 3 out of 5 (and that’s generous)

This book is not worth buying, but if you can get it at the library it’s not a terrible read.  Like I said, there are a few little nuggets of inspiration to be had in here and some solid “don’t do this” items.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Think I’ll avoid it like I do most/all political views. Thanks for the heads up. I find out more farming information from small & medium size farm blogs. We’re the people that have done that and learned from the experience.

    1. I agree. I enjoy those blogs a lot more and they are more informationally dense. I hoped this book would be more of a how-to instead of a political agenda. Oh well I guess.

  2. Jessica says:

    Yeah, the political stuff killed that book for me. I couldn’t even finish it. That’s why I’m a little less swoony for Joel Salatin than most homesteading enthusiasts I know. I’m not saying he shouldn’t talk politics with his farming/homesteading, God knows I do, but I don’t like his politics, so knowing that about him, it’s hard to be into the rest of the stuff he says.

    1. I think it’s fine to be political about the food system, but I don’t think telling people to be/dress/act a certain way is really doing any good.

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