By Julie Guthman
In an period of escalating nutrition politics, many think natural farming to be the agrarian solution. during this first complete examine of natural farming in California, Julie Guthman casts doubt at the present knowledge approximately natural meals and agriculture, at the very least because it has advanced within the Golden nation. Refuting renowned portrayals of natural agriculture as a small-scale relations farm undertaking towards "industrial" agriculture, Guthman explains how natural farming has replicated what it got down to oppose.
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Extra resources for Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (California Studies in Critical Human Geography, 11)
There must be high-input industrial efficiency. Fields are laser-leveled as ﬂat as tabletops. Rows are precisionspaced with food crops bred to accommodate machinery and to last on store shelves. First the earth is drilled with synthetic fertilizers developed from the same research that perfected explosives and poison gas in World War II and then it’s pumped with fumigants and doused with herbicides to inhibit soil-borne disease and retard the growth of weeds. Crops are sprayed and dusted with broad-spectrum insecticides that kill harmful insects, along with most others, in order to maintain high yields and guarantee consistency of appearance.
This applies to the dozens of mixed growers, who were growing certain crops organically and others conventionally. In these cases, growers chose to convert only those crops that were easy to grow organically, either because pests were limited for that crop or allowable materials were effective (such as those for grapes). Easy-to-grow crops generally entail cost reductions, giving growers the beneﬁt of even the smallest organic price premiums. While some just saw a chance of relatively risk-free entry, others were drawn by organic ideas.
Jackson sees the problem as one of information management. As he puts it, the inevitable loss of biological diversity in a managed farm means that “the price for sustainability must be paid from elsewhere. [One must] substitute cultural information for biological information” (1984, 226). The necessity of a low “eyes-to-crop ratio” is one of the reasons that the family farm is seen as the ideal organizational form. 15 Finally, the new agrarianism, like all agrarian populism, is deeply suspicious of state intervention, does not question the individuation of markets, and, most fundamentally, remains a defense of private property (Brass 1997).
Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (California Studies in Critical Human Geography, 11) by Julie Guthman