Episode 77

Grace Gershuny is The Organic Revolutionary

Grace Gershuny is the Organic Revolutionary. She is the author of the book by that very name – a memoir of her life long effort to support healthy soil for our planet and healthy food for all who live on it.

Grace was one of the people who dedicated years of their life to develop the USDA Standards for Organic. Not only was the process long, but also difficult.

The major companies with an interest in industrial agriculture we called Monsanto in the podcast since most everybody knows what that name stands for. But Monsanto is of course not the only company producing chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and GMO crops.

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Opposition from those companies was expected, but not from the organic activist crowd which apparently became quite nasty. Hate mail was the new normal for Grace for a while.

To add insult to injury, politics played a big role in Washington, including office politics. In the end, Grace was no longer part of the team writing the final standards and she feels that they were a far cry from what they started out with.

The book, Organic Revolutionary, is her attempt to set the story straight. It took her 15 years to be able to write it as it stands today. It can take a long time to heal from feeling deeply hurt and abandoned by your peers. She also had to accept that much better standards were intended and almost adopted. But such is life.Organic Revolutionary

Grace continues teaching and advocating for agriculture providing a healthy living and working environment for the farmer and healthy food for all.

These are the topics we addressed in out interview – many are addressed in depth in the Organic Revolutionary, some were other topics our conversation led us to:

1:00 Many people have misconceptions about the process of creating the USDA standards.

2:50  Activist community has many different notions of what the standard should be.

4:00 Right wing background of the organic movement

5:00 Back to the land and start of involvement  in agricultural organizations

  • First organic certification program for NOFA- Northeast Organic Farming Association 
  • Invited to write USDA guidelines for Organic in the mid-nineties
  • A marketing program, not a bible
  • 60s idealist realized growing vegetables doesn’t make money – you have to sell them.
  • Grad school and TREC
  • Book The Soul of Soil – still in print (affiliate)
  • Rural Education Center: many great teachers and leaders and thinkers in the alternative movement. Bill Mollison, the founder of Permaculture among them.
  • Funded through grants and gifts
  • Start selling Yogurt – Stony Hills Farm
  • Build on early Vermont experience of growing a market garden, organizing a farmer’s market and helping to start a cottage industry
  • Farmers markets today
  • Grace has a Masters Degree in Extension education – not offered anymore at the University of Vermont
  • The teacher
  • Social Ecology
  • At present: on line masters program in Sustainable Food systems
  • USDA The activist community undermined a better-suited writing of the standards
  • Organic is not about the products we use, but about doing what is the best for the environment and the soil
  • Push for GMO labeling law got derailed by Monsanto (and others like them) agreed to keep GMO out of organic.
  • We need as many acres, farmers and eaters to go organic
  • Organic farming, no matter which style, sequesters more carbon in the soil than even no till GMO farming
  • There are about 100 certifiers worldwide who set their own fees
  • The story of Fred
  • There are no silver bullets
  • Gardening is a form of therapy

The Best Place to Buy the Book

The best place to buy the book is from Grace Gershuny on her website Organic Revolutionary

However, if you decide to buy Grace’s books from Amazon, please use our affiliate link

Organic Revolutionary

Start with the Soil

The Soul of Soil

The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener

Compost, Vermicompost, and Compost Tea

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