Part 11: I couldn’t resist this title for the concluding chapter in our history of organic agriculture. This lyric from the rambunctious odyssey of the Grateful Dead also conveys the myriad twists and turns that have carried organic agriculture from the countercultural fringe to the White House garden and shelves of Walmart.
Part 3: Despite a perpetual cold shoulder from the land grant agricultural establishment and the commercial food industry, organic agriculture grew steadily if silently during the 1980s. Each regional farmer group developed its own set of standards that specified the conditions with which a farmer must comply for their farm and the food it produced to be certified, labeled and sold as organic.
Part 2: However insightful it was, the organic vision that Howard and his peers, notably Lady Eve Balfour in England and J.I. Rodale in America, had outlined by 1950 was incompatible with the changes then transforming commercial agriculture. The components of this transformation were not all that new – chemically derived fertilizers and pesticides were introduced in the nineteenth century and hybrid seeds and mechanized tractors became commercially available during the 1920s.
Part 1: What comes to mind when you see food labeled “organic” at the grocery store or farmers market? I asked one audience that question years ago, and a gentleman replied emphatically, “Nuts!”