This is the inside story of the Organic Food Movement as told by someone who cares deeply about planetary health and justice for all. I loved this book!
Daphne Miller, MD
Family Physician, Associate Clinical Professor University of California San Francisco, CA
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. The world of organic agriculture is a tight-knit bubble, and was even more so back in 1973 when Gershuny headed for the hills of Vermont and quickly imbedded herself in the organic community there. 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.
Review in FEDCO/Organic Growers Supply Catalog
Her personal journey is characterised by gaining deeper insights but also of losing some friends in the organic movement through her involvement with the USDA and her growing frustration about “absurd arguments over what constituted a real threat to organic integrity.” Much of the book centres on the American organic movement but it contains a lot that is highly relevant to the ongoing debates in the UK to better understand how we can improve organic standards, moving forward, without destroying what it is we want to protect.
Review in Organic Research Center Bulletin Autumn/Winter 2016
I particularly enjoyed her story of how the compromises that were made came about and how the envisaged rules and regulations changed over the 15 years in which she was involved in writing the legislation. The work that this entailed and the need for someone with her knowledge and contacts within the organic world and how this whole melting pot became US law, is a tribute to her strength and determination to get it right from the outset.
Review in The Organic Grower, Winter 2016
I really appreciate the thought you put into the communications side of [organic]... that's the mountain that we're climbing ... I greatly appreciate what you've done—the honesty and the transparency you put into your book—which makes it easier to read, funny at times, but it also gives the reader a sense of where your thinking comes from.
Founder, Red Tomato
I recommend this book to anyone interested in setting standards. Grace delineates her progress from hippy farmer to state legislator in great detail. In the process she describes the challenge of setting standards for organic production in the US. Because the book took fifteen years to write there are great changes in mood. For those similarly challenged with ‘What is a good standard’ (a debate raging in various permaculture circles right now) it clearly states the different positions people will take: purist and enabler would be the extremes...
Meanwhile a very worthwhile read. I particularly like the section: ‘Soil is anything but pure’. Quote: ‘the reductionist model of nutrition gives no indication of the vital, living quality of a food product.’ ‘Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made’ – Mark Twain (AKA Sam Clements) and lastly: ‘Yet in fact the push for higher standards actually made it easier for the large, professional business organisations than for smaller owner-operators. They were simply better equipped to deal with the increasingly finicky and paperwork heavy demands of organic certification.’ A salutary lesson for us all.
The Red Shed Nursery
Permaculture Association, UK
Coldstream, Berwickshire, Scotland
I really appreciated your insight into the organic regulation development process as I had not yet seen that perspective reflected in print and from a credible source. I will certainly be referencing it in future work.
Associate Professor of Food and Agricultural Law
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Organic Revolutionary makes a valuable contribution to organic agriculture history. It reads like a memoir about how the USDA National Organic Standards came about.
Professor Soil Science, Rutgers University
& Board Member of NOFA-NJ
Grace was instrumental in her role of
nailing down just what "organic" actually
meant, starting out with certification
guidelines for NOFA members. Her first
book, "The Soul of Soil", combined her
passion for explaining and understanding the scientific aspects of dirt as well as her ethical considerations for taking care of it. The work she put into researching the down and dirty facts for this book gave her the credentials for creating the certification protocol. Now this turned out to be a blessing as well as a curse.
Review in The Buffalo Bullsheet
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. While elements of all of today’s wonderful biologically-based agricultural practices are in my view sound, 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.
President, Savory Institute
Chairman, Africa Center for Holistic Management
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the events and ideas pivotal to the growth of the organic sector in the US.
Organic Consultant, Previously Chair of OTA, Founding Member IOIA, NOSB Member, QAI Vice President
South Burlington, Vermont
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. Like that of most revolutionaries, Grace Gershuny’s journey has been long and complicated, with exhilarating highs and inevitable disappointments over time. 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.
Author of Under a Wing, The Midnight Farm
Organic Revolutionary is a personal story, but also an intellectual exploration of the connections between agriculture and politics, between climate change and how we eat and grow food, between planetary, political, and personal health.…a provocative book written about an interesting time, an important movement, and a Northeast Kingdom woman’s role.
News Editor, The Barton Chronicle
What you are about to read is the real life, real time, real personal story of a true pioneer who rode the organic wave from the grass roots movement it once was, into the legislative hard core battlefield of government regulation and rule making process. Grace contributed to, and survived the journey of the creation of “organic” as we know it today. Hers is a compelling tale of the inner workings of the organic community and the organic industry and the processes and characters involved.
Howie Ross, aka 'Mr. Awganic'
Owner, Urban Legends
Nelson, British Columbia, Canada
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
The book provides a much needed perspective on the process of reconciling radical politics with the world of government administration and the growing organic market being increasingly dominated by big companies. The form of a ‘memoir’ makes it easy to read. Occasionally, personal matters take over the story, but that is what they do in most peoples’ lives. It adds flesh and blood to the book.
Founder of Grolink AB and Author of Garden Earth
Organic Revolutionary narrates the life of a woman at the vanguard of the struggle for True Food, rhizomatically woven with the flight path of the global resistance to the increasing industrialization of synthetic, genetically-altered “food.” One can hardly separate the biography of Grace Gershuny from her exemplary work to make us all better and healthier human beings.
Artist, Community Organizer
Gershuny’s central role in some of the most important developments in that [organic movement] history make Organic Revolutionary a must read for anyone interested in this subject.
Professor of Sociology and Director of Environmental Studies
State University of New York – New Paltz
In The Natural Farmer
Mega well done – a great tour de force – stories that needed to be told – and a great ending – fanaticism, intolerance and a sense of superiority so often undermine genuine doable next-step progress.
Professor Emeritus, Social Ecology
University of Western Syndey, Australia
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 & political activist
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Grace Gershuny brings a Vermont perspective to the growth of the organic food movement in America, as she spent most of the period from 1970 to the present—the timespan covered by this book—in Vermont. The book is an informative account of the movement told from a very personal perspective. Many of the events and people she chronicles will be familiar to those readers who have been involved in what the author calls the "modern organic movement." For readers who are less familiar, yet curious about this history, Gershuny's narrative should prove informative and thought provoking.
Founder, Associates in Rural Development
in Vermont History Journal
In Organic Revolutionary, Grace Gershuny recalls her journey helping blaze a trail for organic certification in the 1990s. Her memoir makes for a powerful recounting of the trials and tribulations of being tasked with the David and Goliath–sized job of leading a team to draft the rules for what would eventually become the first process-based set of regulations governing an entire set of food production practices…. For younger readers, who consider eating a political act and who care deeply about the impact their food dollars have on the health of their families, the environment, and the animals upon whom they rely for sustenance, it can be difficult to imagine a time before the existence of the USDA Organic label. … Organic Revolutionary is a compelling and worthwhile read.
Carrie A. Scrufari, Esq.
Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School
South Royalton, Vermont
In Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development