Organic Futures: Struggling for Sustainability on the Small Farm

Organic Futures: Struggling for Sustainability on the Small Farm

by Connor J. Fitzmaurice, Brian Gareau


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An exploration of the lived experience of small-scale organic farmers in New England that unpacks how they balance their ideals with economic realities

In recent years, the popularity of organically grown produce has exploded. In 2014, organic fruits and vegetables accounted for 12% of all produce sales in the United States, with $39 billion in consumer sales reported for 2015. As a federally recognized niche market within the agricultural mainstream, organic farming is increasingly on display in American grocery stores. Yet the organic food most Americans consume today is produced by an industrial food system at odds with the practices and ideals of small-scale farmers. Taking an ethnographic approach, the fieldwork by Connor Fitzmaurice and Brian Gareau at a small New England organic farm sheds light on how farmers navigate the difficult terrain between practices of sustainability and the economic realities of contemporary agriculture. Drawing on extensive research, Fitzmaurice and Gareau examine the historical context, complexities, and viability of nonconventional organic farming practices: practices that seek to balance ecology and community with the business of agriculture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300199451
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/25/2016
Series: Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Connor J. Fitzmaurice is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Boston University. Brian J. Gareau is associate professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Conventionalization, Bifurcation, and Social Relationships on the Small Organic Farm 1

Part I The Market

1 Making Sense of Organics: A Brief History 27

2 Organic Hits the Mainstream 44

3 Why Supermarket Organic Matters 62

Part II The Land

Prelude: A Sense of Place 91

4 Amid the Chard: Cultivating the Diverse Landscapes and Practices of a New England Organic Farm 106

5 Who Farms? 139

6 A Sea of Brown Bags and the Organic Label: Organic Marketing Strategies in Practice 164

7 No-Nonsense Organic: Negotiating Everyday Concerns about the Environment, Health, and the Aesthetics of Farming 200

Conclusion: An Alternative Agriculture for Our Time 229

Appendix: Method and Approach 263

References 267

Index 289

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