In this ground-breaking study of organic farming, Julie Guthman challenges accepted wisdom about organic food and agriculture in the Golden State. Many continue to believe that small-scale organic farming is the answer to our environmental and health problems, but Guthman refutes popular portrayals that pit "small organic" against "big organic" and offers an alternative analysis that underscores the limits of an organic label as a pathway to transforming agriculture.
This second edition includes a thorough investigation of the federal organic program, a discussion of how the certification arena has continued to grow and change since its implementation, and an up-to-date guide to the structure of the organic farming sector. Agrarian Dreams delivers an indispensable examination of organic farming in California and will appeal to readers in a variety of areas, including food studies, agriculture, environmental studies, anthropology, sociology, geography, and history.
"A meticulous academic study of the institutional dynamics of [California's] organic agriculture."
– Steven Shapin, New Yorker
"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 Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
"Julie Guthman has written a major study illuminating the problematic results of the struggle for standards in the organic farming sector of California [...] a guide for American citizens to return to the political issues that cannot go away: labor and land."
– Harriet Friedman, Journal of Agrarian Change
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Agrarian Dreams
2. Finding the Way: Roads to Organic Production
3. Organic Farming: Ideal Practices and Practical Ideals
4. California Dreaming: California’s Agro-Industrial Legacy
5. Organic Sediment: A Geography of Organic Production
6. Conventionalizing Organic: From Social Movement to Industry via Regulation
7. Organic Regulation Ramified
8. California Organics, Fifteen Years On
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Julie Guthman is Professor of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (UC Press).