We should aim to eat in the future how we ate a century ago, says a third-generation plain-speaking Virginia farmer and author of a new book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal."

"Many young people can't imagine a day in which you can pronounce all the food you ate, when there was no supermarket and no plastic," Joel Salatin told CTV's Canada AM in an interview that aired this week.

Today, if you asked someone to show their larder, they wouldn't know what you mean, said Salatin, who rose to prominence when Michael Pollan featured him in "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

A century ago, families stored their food in their larders. This meant canned, salted and otherwise preserved food along with seasonal produce. Today, most cities -- if they were suddenly cut off from the outside world -- only contain three days' supply of food, Salatin said.

As a result, people have become incredibly disconnected from the food and energy that powers their lives, he said.

The big questions: So what? Who cares?

Everyone should, Salatin says, because the modern system of industrial agriculture has created the following problems:

  • pathogens and toxins in food, such as E. coli
  • chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes
  • soil degradation
  • less nutritious food
  • high energy usage for transport

All this has happened "in the name of cheap food," he said.

Salatin practices what he preaches on his farm in the Shenandoah River valley. At his Polyface Inc. website, he advertises the following products:

"We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture," the website reads. "Experience the satisfaction of knowing your food and your farmer, building community. We are your clean meat connection."

If you want to see the farm in action, you can watch the Oscar-nominated 2008 documentary "Food Inc.," which takes a look at the costs -- described above by Salatin -- associated with the modern-day food industry.

To reduce those costs personally and develop a more healthy relationship with food, Salatin recommends the following.

"The first thing you can do is get in your kitchen," he said. "Eat unprocessed."

The processing of food has been one of the worst things to happen to peoples' diets, he said.

Buy your food locally and visit local farms, he said.

Most communities have farmers' markets and even community garden plots where you can grow your own food if you don't have enough personal space.

Salatin also urged people to get more interested in what they consume.

"What we have now is a culture that is far more interested in and passionate about the latest body piercing in Hollywood than what's going to become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones."