Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California

Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California

Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California

Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California


""Agrarian Dreams throws a cold shower of reality over the dream of organic agriculture in California, demonstrating all that is lost when organic farming goes industrial. This is a challenging book, and until we can answer the hard questions Julie Guthman poses, a genuinely sustainable agriculture will elude us."--Michael Pollan, author of "The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

""Agrarian Dreams puts organic agriculture in a broad intellectual, social, and theoretical context in a readable way. Nobody has written at this scale and scope about organics. The availability of this basic data and interpretation will open discussion to a broad range of citizens, scholars, and decision makers. This is an outstanding work."--Sally K. Fairfax, Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy, University of California, Berkeley

"Guthman takes on the sacred cow of organic agriculture: that farmers and consumers can transform our food system simply through by adopting new philosophies of eating, farming and nature. With an analysis that is at the forefront of agrarian theory today, she shows that organic farmers, no matter what their philosophy, have to work under the economic gun of markets and land prices. As a result, organic growers in California are forced to become increasingly industrialized, unjust and unhealthy. Her analysis is proof that it will take more than new kinds of thinking to create sustainability in our food system."--Melanie DuPuis, author of "Nature's Perfect Food: How Milk Became America's Drink


Care about social justice issues? Labor and employment practices by agribusiness, health problems related to pesticides [applied] by farm labor, and the security of the small family farmer are related issues. If corporate farms continue their takeover of our food supply, then these businesses and their giant trading corporate partners can set the price of basic food commodities, dictate the wages and working conditions of farmworkers, and put family farms out of business through the consolidation of landholdings and economies of scale. Polluting farming practices and poor labor conditions are cheaper and are more likely to occur if corporations are allowed to continue taking over our food production. Preserving the family and small-scale farm that can employ alternative methods and that can produce food for local consumption ensures food safety and is more environmentally sound than industrialized farming methods, and the organic industry is made up of primarily small-sized producers. We have not fully addressed the issues of sustainability within the growing organic industry, but that question may become moot if these laws [the first set of organic rules proposed by the USDA in 1997] are passed. Lower standards will allow for a greater takeover of organic farming by agribusiness and put the small producer out of work and off the land.

Claire Cummings, commentator on food and farming on KPFA radio

I feel that the motivation of the people growing this way coincides with my concerns about the health of the planet…. [Organic farmers] are motivated by belief, not profit margin.

Patricia Unterman, food writer, San Francisco Examiner, 1998 . . .

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