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Organic StruggleThe Movement for Sustainable Agriculture in the United States$
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Brian K. Obach

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029094

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029094.001.0001

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The Birth of the Organic Movement

The Birth of the Organic Movement

(p.27) 2 The Birth of the Organic Movement
Organic Struggle

Brian K. Obach

The MIT Press

This chapter traces the early history of the organic movement, emphasizing three debates that would persist to the present: what specifically defines organic practices, the role of spirituality versus science in organic philosophy, and the relationship between organic advocacy and broader social issues. Early 20th century organic pioneers such as Albert Howard, Eve Balfour and Rudolf Steiner introduced this approach to farming in Europe. In the United States publisher J.I. Rodale trumpeted the cause and spread organic philosophy through his magazines starting in the 1940s, a time when industrial agriculture practices and the use of synthetic chemicals in farming were on the rise. Rodale built a small following, but organic remained fairly marginal until it attracted the interest of the counterculture in the 1960s. It was at this point that the organic cause began to take on the formal characteristics of a social movement.

Keywords:   biodynamic agriculture, back-to-the-land movement, The Soil Association, Sir Albert Howard, Lady Eve Balfour, Rudolf Steiner, J.I. Rodale, Organic Farming and Gardening magazine, Food co-ops, Communes

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