Holy Cows & Hog Heaven – A Book Review

In Book Reviews, Joel Salatin by James4 Comments

Is having the option to eat clean nutrient dense food important to you? If you answered, yes, then a series of questions will follow that premise. If you answered no, then uh, I guess you can stop reading this now, unless you’re curious as to why it should matter. In Holy Cows & Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food Joel Salatin takes the reader down the path of integrity food salvation. The book is as the title suggests, a guide to help people find the kind of food I mentioned in the question I raised above. Hint: You’re not going to find it at Walmart – not that I’m anti Walmart, but when it comes to the kind of food I’m talking about, Walmart’s operating model would not be able to accommodate it. In addition to finding such food, the book shows the reader how to become more involved in insuring that more of this type food reaches a wider range of people. Hint: You can’t just be a mindless consumer if you want quality products.

What’s in the book?

The book is divided into four major sections, each one including 4-6 subsections.

Section 1: The Farm Friendly Producer
Ch.1 – Trustworthy to Maintain Consistency
Ch.2 – Committed to Appropriate Size
Ch.3 – Neighbor Friendly
Ch.4 – Open

Section 2: Farm Friendly Product
Ch.5 – Soils and Fertility
Ch.6 – Food is Biological
Ch.7 – East vs. West
Ch.8 – Genetic Engineering

Section 3: The Farm Friendly Patron
Ch.9 – Be connected
Ch.10 – Acquainted with the kitchen
Ch.11 – Eating In Sync with the Season
Ch.12 – Be Appreciative and Forgiving

Section 4: Farm Friendly Policy
Ch.13 – Decentralization, Bioregionalism, Globalism
Ch.14 – Cheap Food
Ch.15 – Regulation
Ch.16 – Preserving Embryonic Entrepreneurs
Ch.17 – Food Safety


This book is very well organized and is full of suggestions and solutions. At the end of each chapter Joel gives the reader several things they can do to overcome the obstacles presented within each topic. The theme of having access to clean, integrity grown, nutrient dense foods is the guiding backbone for all the principles and actions presented throughout. I mention a few highlights below.

The Farm Friendly Producer

In this four chapter section Joel outlines the things to look for when trying to determine if a particular farmer is the one you want to give your money to. The best thing you can do is visit the farm. Any farm friendly producer will be very transparent like Joel’s Polyface Farms, and maintain an open door policy. Once you’re at the farm Joel lists a number of things to look for. The first thing you’ll likely notice is the smell. If it’s not a pleasant smell, right away you’ll know something is not right. Yes, farms are not supposed to stink to hog heaven.

Farm Friendly Product

In the second section Joel keys the reader in on what to look for when considering the methodology of the farmer. What are they doing with their soils? Are they loading them with chemical fertilizers and pesticides or are they using compost? Ask to see the compost pile. If there isn’t one, then that will tell you a lot.

Farm Friendly Patron

In this section Joel shifts the focus to the food buyer. To participate in this kind of foodscape it’s a two way street and the farmer needs you just as much as you need him. What can you do to be a more farm friendly and conscious consumer? The first thing you can start doing is learning your way around the kitchen. Get familiar with the tools of the trade. Take a cooking class if necessary. Watch youtube videos – they’re free, abundant, and a lot of them are high quality. Learn how to preserve foods with canning and start to eat seasonally.

Farm Friendly Policy

This section is for both the farmer and the consumer. It’s about getting educated. The problems that exist within the food system are not mysteries. Many people want clean farm fresh food, but either they don’t have access to it, or it’s out of their budget. The biggest thing that hurts farmers and consumers is laws. Laws that are sold to the public as being in their interest, or more often than not have very little publicity before passed into law. Regulations kill competition. It works out great for the big guys like Tyson chicken. Understanding where these regulations come from, how they work, and how to get around them is important if you’re going to participate in food freedom. When Joel wrote this book he hadn’t yet written Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal (Click on the link to read my book review of that book.) Every small farmer and food conscious consumer needs to know the enemy they’re up against if they’re to defeat it. If you think “it’s not that bad” read the book review, then read the book – it is.

Final Thoughts of a Wannabe Farmer

As usual Joel Salatin delivers. Having access to and eating nutrient dense food is in my view the pre-curser to everything else. Food is the fuel that feeds our bodies and minds. The better the quality, the better our performance. The human body is very dynamic and adaptable, but the fact is we have not adapted to processed food. These foods are cheap, convenient, and will give a human the energy to sustain his life, but it won’t be optimal, and it has long term consequences. More often than not it takes it’s toll and leads to heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of other ailments all of which end up costing more in the long run – physically and financially. The great Austrian school economist Henry Hazlitt, author of Economics In One Lesson wrote: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” The same goes for what you eat and how it is cultivated. I recommend any wannabe farmer or wannabe nutrient dense food consumer to give this book a read and start thinking about the principles involved when it comes to integrity food.

Buy the book via Amazon by clicking HERE (It’s an affiliate link so I get a little kickback if you buy. Thanks!)



  1. Addye Thole

    Thanks. Good review!!
    The supply of organic, non gmo fed & grass/pastured meat products are scarce in my small town still. I have seen an increase, at, the local chain markets here of more grass fed/natural, no antibiotic beef – but not a variety of organic being sold. Sad that I have to order online for organic meats. Sad really that the only organic/grass fed meat I can buy locally is ground beef.
    I’ll have to read this one. Thanks!!! 🙂

    1. Author

      Some places are easier to access this type of food than others for sure. Try your best and hopefully over time more and more farm friendly producers will keep showing up. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Author

    Yeah, me too. That’s why I’m going for my own. Haha. Thanks for the comment ghost editor. 😉

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