Grace Gershuny

  • Permalink Gallery

    Teaming with Black activists and microbes for the soul of organic

Teaming with Black activists and microbes for the soul of organic

by Grace Gershuny,
[Originally posted at]

I tend to be a big picture thinker, and have always just assumed that the connections between organic agriculture and social justice were self-evident. Yet clearly many others don’t see this connection, and believe that with the advent of a federally mandated organic certification and marketing program, organic has lost its soul.
However, there was plenty of soul in evidence at last spring’s Farm to Plate Conference in Ithaca, NY.  For the first time in my long history of attending such conferences, the key organizers and all four opening keynote speakers were passionate and articulate […]

An organic revolutionary in South Korea

by Grace Gershuny

Last October I had the opportunity to deliver a talk at a conference in Goesan province, South Korea. The Regional Conference on Marketing & Innovation in Organic Farming was co-sponsored by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) with the Goesan provincial government. My presentation, co-authored by former IFOAM President Katherine DiMatteo, was entitled, “The organic revolution, or you can’t dismantle capitalism with a marketing plan” (full text was posted in September, but the link unfortunately may not work in all browsers).

The whole event was inspiring on many levels. The conference was part of a month-long organic […]

The organic imperative held hostage

This commentary by ISE faculty and board member Grace Gershuny originally appeared on her author’s blog for Chelsea Green Publishers:

“We no longer have the luxury of prevention. Now we are in the dire situation of needing a cure, a reversal. We know that correcting agriculture is an answer to climate chaos, and that it hinges on human behavior. ….The future is underfoot. It’s all about healthy soil.” This statement from ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of the Rodale Institute, epitomizes the urgency of the need to convert as much farmland as possible, as quickly as possible, to organic management. […]

Book Review: Gunnar Rundgren’s “Garden Earth”

Garden Earth: From Hunter and Gatherer
to Global Capitalism and Thereafter
by Gunnar Rundgren

Reviewed by Grace Gershuny

Gunnar Rundgren is well known in the international organic community as an articulate leader, consultant, theorist, and practitioner of organic agriculture world wide.  A founder of the influential Swedish organic certification program KRAV, he later became President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), helping transform it from a highly Euro-centric organization to one with strong representation from every continent.  His consulting organization, Grolink, helps train organic farmers in Africa and has advised several UN agricultural programs.  Grolink also publishes an electronic newsletter […]

Grace Gershuny on Ecologizing the Food System

From ISE faculty member and organic pioneer, Grace Gershuny:

This is a first installment of an ongoing discussion about Social Ecology and the food system – both why the one we have is so wrong, and how our understanding of the root causes of its failures can inform food system activists and practitioners.  There is an approximate boatload of food system bloggers of all stripes out there – this one will uniquely speak from the perspective of Social Ecology, which is sorely needed.  I hope you will jump in and offer your own insights to the questions raised, and also […]

Support Food Democracy at Green Mountain College

The fate of a pair of oxen at Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm (Poultney, VT) has attracted national media attention, but not because of the exemplary way the administration at this small college has engaged students in deciding the role of animals in their community food system.

Please read the appeal that follows by the Director of the Green Mt. College Farm & Food Project.  Philip Ackerman-Leist also directs the MA Program in Sustainable Food Systems, and on-line program in which I currently teach a course on Theory & Practice of Sustainable Agriculture.  I can attest to the outstanding commitment […]

Social Ecologist Profile: Grace Gershuny of Barnet, VT USA

Please introduce yourself (What kind of work you do, Where you live, etc.)
I live in Barnet, VT – just south of St. Johnsbury, where I’ve lived (with a small lapse) since 1984 in a house that I built with my then husband.  We ran a small market garden for 8 years, and I still grow a lot of my own food.  Just planted my first seeds of the 2011 season – a very satisfying job.  I’ve taught at the ISE and worked with ISE students in one way or other since 1986 – almost always around the subject […]

Sad news for the organic vision

Note: This piece also appears on the Chelsea Green website: I wrote the passage that follows near the end of 2010, in the midst of working on a chapter about the early history of organic certification and my role in it.  This experience came to mind when I heard about the abrupt dismissal of Mark Keating, a former National Organic Program (NOP) colleague who had recently returned to the staff after Miles McEvoy took over the helm of the program over a year ago.  Having a high regard for Miles and his understanding of organics I had some reason […]

Conflicts Over Organic Standards

Originally published at:
Part I – History of organic standard-setting and controversies
NOTE: This article was published in the August 2010 issue of The Organic Standard, an international on-line publication aimed at policy makers, certifiers and the organic trade, published by Grolink AB, a Swedish consulting company (

This is the first of a three-part series that The Organic Standard (TOS) will publish on the story of organic standards in the USA. The series will cover the earliest developments right up to the current situation, and it will examine the conflicts that have been always present in how ‘organic’ is understood […]

By | September 23rd, 2010 | Article Archive | 0 Comments |

Are the Best Organic Standards the Toughest Organic Standards? Why the Activists Got it Wrong

As an aware consumer imploring American farmers to “put away that DDT now,” singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell sang back in the 1970’s, “give me spots on the apples, but leave me the birds and the bees…please.”

Once upon a time, when I was an activist and small organic farmer, organic standards were a self-imposed system of rules developed primarily by organic farmers, those who had to work with them on the ground. Consumer expectations were always figured into organic standards, but we understood that consumer perceptions of what is “pure and natural” do not always fit the reality of […]