NEW BOOK! American Organic: A Cultural History of Farming, Gardening, Shopping and Eating by Robin O’Sullivan

by Robyn Wright on October 26, 2015

in Food

American Organic: A cultural history of farming, gardening, shopping and eating by Robin O'Sullivan

I was so thrilled to hear from Robin about her book being released! Yes, I do love the topic, but I love that she is someone I know from here on my blog as a regular reader of mine. How exciting! I myself am a blogger, not a writer. There is a difference I think and both have their own merits, but just because I write a blog doesn’t make me a trained writer. Robin O’Sullivan though is a real writer!

In the book, American Organic: A Cultural History of Farming, Gardening, Shopping and Eating, Robin takes her unbiased approach as a cultural historian to show us how the organic movement has changed over the years and what the impact is in today’s society.

In 1947, when J. I. Rodale, editor of Organic Gardening, declared, “the Revolution has begun,” a mere 60,000 readers and a ragtag army of followers rallied to the cause, touting the benefits of food grown with all-natural humus. More than a half century later, organic farming is part of a multi-billion-dollar industry, spreading from the family farm to agricultural conglomerates, and from the supermarket to the farmer’s market to the dinner tables of families all across America. In the organic zeitgeist the adage “you are what you eat” truly applies, and this book reveals what the dynamics of organic culture tells us about who we are.

Rodale’s goal was to improve individuals and the world. American Organics shows how the organic movement has been more successful in the former than the latter, while preserving connections to environmentalism, agrarianism, and nutritional dogma. With the unbiased eye of a cultural historian, Robin O’Sullivan traces the movement from agricultural pioneers in the 1940s to hippies in the 1960s to consumer activists today—from a counter cultural moment to a mainstream concern, with advocates in highbrow culinary circles, agri-business, and mom-and-pop grocery stores. Her approach is holistic, examining intersections of farmers, gardeners, consumers, government regulations, food shipping venues, advertisements, books, grassroots groups, and mega-industries involved in all echelons of the organic food movement.

In American Organic we see how organic growing and consumption has been everything from a practical decision, lifestyle choice, and status marker to a political deed, subversive effort, and social philosophy—and how organic production and consumption are entrenched in the lives of all Americans, whether they eat organic food or not.

I love the concept behind this book. While I am not a “totally organic” kind of person when it comes to food, I do try to understand it more and continue to learn and grown my awareness of when it is and is not so important. There are certain foods that I do prefer to buy organic, but then there are other foods that I know are now, especially processed and prepackaged foods, and I still buy them and have no plans to change that right away. Increasing our own knowledge without having to become a radical on a topic is something I think we all need to embrace. Robin’s book is going to help me do just that and enjoy some great history all at the same time!

You can purchase American Organic by Robin O’Sullivan on Amazon now in hardcover and Kindle formats. It is 408 pages and newly published (October 2015) by University Press of Kansas. Think ahead for the holidays too.

Robin O’Sullivan can be found on Twitter @historynibbles and Instagram also as historynibbles. She also will be speaking at the 92nd Street Y in New York on Friday, November 6 if you would like to know more about the book and meet the author in person!

Is this a topic that sounds interesting to you or for someone you know? Do you stick with an all organic diet, partial, or you don’t pay any attention at all as of yet?


© 2015, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.


1 Robin October 27, 2015 at 5:40 am

Don’t worry, I am not a “totally organic” kind of person either. The book doesn’t tell people what to eat; it’s just about the history of the movement. Thank you so much for spreading the word, Robyn!!

2 tannawings October 28, 2015 at 2:24 am

I am not a total organic eater although I do garden that way. I compost and dont us chemiicals. During the summer and fall I eat far more organic the winter and spring unless it is using frozen or canned from the garden. If it is off season it is much tougher.

3 Lisa Brown October 29, 2015 at 7:37 am

We try to eat as much organic as we can afford. Organic is the way to go in this day and age if you want to stay healthy. Also, avoid GMOs like the plague.

4 salexis November 18, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I’ll have to check out American Organic – sounds like it may be a great gift idea too!

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