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Organic Revolutionary
Grace Gershuny

Black Rose Books

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Organic Revolutionary : A Memoir from the Movement for Real Food, Planetary Healing, and Human Liberation, 3rd Edition

Grace Gershuny


An influential founding member of the American organic agriculture movement and a long-time organic farmer, Grace Gershuny gives us one of the most comprehensive and deeply personal accounts of adventures in that movement ever written. A principal author of the USDA's first proposed National Organic rule, Gershuny left the National Organic Program staff just before the final rule was published. The complicated story of that movement for nationwide organic regulations, which consumed Gershuny’s life for five years, is interwoven here with her own personal timeline before, during, and after the arduousardous federal process.

This memoir explores how the organic revolution became rooted well before the US federal government cared to notice. Gershuny asks important ongoing questions about the organic movement that still aren’t receiving enough attention, such as whether organic standards should be consumer or farmer-driven and if organic agriculture architecture will be able to maintain its principles as it becomes mainstream. Entertaining yet urgent, Organic Revolutionary thoughtfully details the personal, political, and practical struggles that ensued in the heroic effort to push the organic movement beyond farmers' markets and into supermarkets.

Praise for Organic Revolutionary

"Organic Revolutionary' is an important message about the historic and current place of organic agriculture in the good food movement, how the integrity of organic has been challenged, and the opportunity that organic agriculture holds to promote planetary health."
Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director NOFA-Vermont

“I hold Grace in high regard as a leader in the organic movement because of the depth of her thinking and writing combined with the highest of motives and concern for the future of humanity. …unless leaders like Grace, and others along the entire agricultural production chain, can collaborate using a holistic framework we will fail to address the web of social, cultural, economic and environmental complexity that can help us avoid global catastrophe.”
Allan Savory, President, Savory Institute; Chairman, Africa Center for Holistic Management

“At a dinner party, sometimes one has the good fortune to be seated next to the person who knows the dirt on everyone else there and isn’t afraid to talk… Gershuny had a hand in the founding of NOFA, the founding of the OTA, the development of the NOP, and more; she speaks of these important developments, and of the other organic movers and shakers who helped to mold them, from a deeply personal perspective. But the book transcends gossip column status to ask important ongoing questions about the organic movement. Should the organic standards be consumer-driven or farmer-driven? Should they focus on the source of inputs or on the ecological soundness of the practices? Can organic agriculture achieve mainstream status without hanging its principles out to dry? Whether you like Gershuny’s answers to these questions or not, you’ll enjoy the conversation.”
Alice Percy, review in FEDCO/Organic Growers Supply Catalog

“Gershuny is no dispassionate detached observer. The story of organic is the story of her life. Not just her professional and public life; her love life and family life are also inseparable from the broader drama of Organic USA. For this reason, Gershuny’s history of organic standards and labeling is necessarily an autobiography—and inversely, she could never tell the story of her life without going through the whole history of the organic movement.”
Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero (1967-2016), journalist and political activist

“Grace Gershuny, a founding member of the American organic agriculture movement and a long-time organic farmer, has written a thoughtfully comprehensive, entertaining, and deeply personal account of her adventures in the movement and on the land.… Her story is an important one and her ultimate conclusions, along with her hopes for the future, are optimistic for the new generation of organic farmers.”
Reeve Lindbergh, author of "Under a Wing" and "The Midnight Farm"

Grace Gershuny is co-author of The Soul of Soil and has written extensively on soil, compost, and food system issues. She lives in Vermont.

280 pages; 2020

Table of Contents

  • Foreword to the First Edition - Joe Smillie
  • Foreword to the Third Edition - Brian Tokar
  • Acronym Glossary
  • Timeline
  • Prologue—Summer 2015
  • Update for the Second Edition—Summer 2017
  • Prologue—Summer 2019
  • 1 How a City Girl Learned to Love the Dirt
  • 2 Finding Soul in the Soil
  • 3 Big Brother and the Organic Industry
  • 4 Death and Rebirth on the National Stage
  • 5 The Real Dirt on the Regulations
  • 6 We Have Met the Enemy
  • 7 Growing Forward
  • Epilogue—Advice to a Young Food System Activist
  • End Notes
  • Appendix
  • Annotated Bibliography and Information Resources
  • New England Farmer reproduction of “Newville 1990”
  • Acknowledgements
  • Personal Remembrance—Miranda Constance Smith
  • Index

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