190: Grace Gershuny on The Organic Revolution.
Recollecting early food system activism.
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Grace is widely known as an author, educator and organic consultant. In the 1990’s she served on the staff of the USDA’s National Organic Program, where she helped write the regulations. She learned much of what she knows through her longtime involvement with the grassroots organic movement, where she organized conferences and educational events and developed an early organic certification program for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA).
She currently teaches in the Green Mountain College online Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program and serves on the Board of the Institute for Social Ecology. She has a Masters in Extension Education from the University of Vermont, with a self-designed concentration in Ecological Agriculture.
Doing business as GAIA Service she works as an independent organic inspector. She also does consulting for private and non-profit clients on all aspects of organic certification, developing related standards and certification systems, and training programs. A reformed market gardener, Grace still grows her own veggies and chicken in Barnet, Vermont.
In this podcast:
Greg is impressed when he gets a chance to talk with Grace who tells about being part of the early organic food movement and her part in writing the first standards for organic food regulation. Her story is important for anyone who is interested in being active in writing food policy for our legislators.
Listen in and learn about:
- How she started in the real food movement and the evolution of the organic food movement
- Growing up as an urbanite with no clue about growing food
- Her transition to living in the country and her first garden
- Getting involved in the Natural Organic Farmers Association at the very beginning
- Organizing a farmers market in 1975 which still exists today
- Volunteering to organize the first organic standards for the Association
- When the changes started occurring in 1984
- Organic Crop Improvement Association and the certification process that started
- The beginning of the Organic Trade Organization
- Helping in the effort to get organic law passed in 1990
- How some of all this is working together and what is being accomplished
- The Soul of Soil and how she got it published
- How she mixed work and home and still helped get so much done
- Working to help the USDA develop the first set of rules for organic products
- The record breaking response to the legislation
- The long path to getting the legislation passed
As well as:
- Her failure – how she felt she did not communicate the purpose of the law to the rest of the growing community
- Her success – writing the standards for organic produce
- Her drive – feeling the planet, human health and social justice is in dire straights and wanting to mitigate and reduce climate change
- Her advice – she reads a page from her book here.
Grace’s Book recommendations:
The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture – by Wendel Berry
Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity – by Francis Moore Lappe
How to reach Grace: