Is Organic Boom Healthy for Small Farmers?

Via Common Dreams

Is Organic Boom Healthy for Small Farmers?
by Anna Sussman

NEW YORK – Aisle upon aisle of high-end condiments and piles of picture-perfect produce inspire questions such as, “What crackers would go best with this aged Gouda?” — and perhaps more often, “Why is this artichoke so expensive?”

For Samuel Fromartz, a longtime business reporter with The New York Times, Business Week and Fortune, a larger question loomed. Having noticed how brisk business was, he decided to purchase Whole Foods stock. And then, as he watched it soar, he wondered, “Who would have thought that a natural food supermarket could have offered a financial refuge from the dot-com bust?”

The answer to this question, and the many other questions it engendered, became “Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew”, a new book that examines the rise of the multi-billion-dollar organic food industry and the tensions that plague it….

…”Although the organic movement had a strong affinity with agrarianism and small-scale farming, the method as Howard conceived it was not limited by scale,” Fromartz writes. “It couldn’t be, if the aim was to be the alternative to chemically intensive farming.”

As Fromartz sees it, this conflict between small farmers and those with dreams of large-scale organic production has been a part of the movement since its inception. In exploring this increasingly visible industry, he has written a fast-paced book with a fascinating cast of characters, ranging from the rugged, back-to-the-land idealistic farmers to Steve Demos, the rich kid-turned-Buddhist-turned Silk Soymilk mogul….

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